Neighbourhoods at risk of becoming ghettoised
Some of Britain’s poorest neighbourhoods are at risk of becoming ghettoised if budget cuts halt society’s efforts to pull them ‘back from the cliff edge’, a new book warns.
Family futures: childhood and poverty in urban neighbourhoods by Anne Power, Helen Willmot and Rosemary Davidson from the London School of Economics is published this week. It says even small improvements to deprived areas have dramatic effects on the well-being and ambition of the families who live there.
The authors warn that not doing these improvements because of financial pressure may cause severe damage to disadvantaged communities.
They interviewed 200 families every year over eight years to discover which parts of their lives involved the biggest struggle and which actions improved things. The families, from Hackney and Newham in East London and from parts of Leeds and Sheffield, gave their insights on schools, policing, health, community, jobs, local environments and housing.
Three-quarters of parents said they had noticed a reduction in crime, often because of extra support from community police officers. A focus on neighbourhood management helped residents feel more confident about their futures and less powerless to change difficult conditions.
Anne Power, a professor of social policy at LSE, said: ‘Family Futures shows that for people who have little choice about where they live their community is even more important to them. Like all of us, they worry about schools, play spaces, the need for children to let off steam, crime, health, housing and their environment. Yet they have little control over most of these things and rely on government and the wider society to help them improve their lives.
‘This can only be done by keeping a framework of support in place but that is what’s threatened as public spending is slashed. Families told us how much they rely on this help for their neighbourhoods to work - society needs to keep up this support.’