Council house `trap' for gifted

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The Independent Online
GIFTED PEOPLE are being excluded from employment opportunities simply because they live in council housing, according to a new report.

Those with high intelligence who live in public housing receive lower pay, fewer promotions and less holiday leave than their neighbouring homeowners, according to the study, published by the Oxford Psychologists Press. The division acts as "a kind of social exclusion", which can result in aggressive and anti-social attitudes in people who are intelligent but under-achieving.

Co-authors Dr Mark Cook, a psychology lecturer at the University of Wales, and Dr Robert McHenry, an occupational psychologist, concluded that "owner- occupiers do better at work in almost every respect".

"Social housing has a blocking effect. They are blocked in education and blocked in work," said Dr Cook. "It has a far more dramatic effect than being from a different social class - which is astonishing."

The study examined the levels of intelligence of 2,000 people. It found council tenants were less likely to complete full-time education than people not living in council estates, a factor that may handicap them at work.

But employers' attitudes - and their own - also played a part. Highly intelligent people living in council housing were more likely to be out of work than their less bright counterparts, a reflection, the report suggests, of "an unwillingness to take on work they find unfulfilling".

"Prejudices are a valid factor. People who live in public housing who are intelligent seem to be caught up in some trap of under-achievement. They're being judged by where they live," Dr McHenry said.