Letter: Urban poverty

Share
Related Topics
Your article "Brown swoops to save doomed estates" (6 February) would have been better entitled "Brown charges up same old blind alley". Government policy on urban poverty has followed this mistaken path of area targeting for the last 30 years, and it has failed.

The reasons are, first, that poverty and deprivation are not particularly concentrated. Yes, there are some places much worse than others, but any policy to target the areas most affected will always miss most of the target group. Most poor people do not live in the small number of "worst" target areas.

Second, these are human problems, not problems of place. People move around. One estate or area may improve, but only at the cost of the deprivation, and often the same deprived people, moving somewhere else - unless there is action to reduce the net amount of poverty and deprivation.

The previous government commissioned, and then ignored, a review of urban policy led by Professor Robson at Manchester University. It showed that 30 years of area-targeted initiatives have failed to improve the areas concerned relative to the country as a whole. The report commented that targeting people rather than areas might be more appropriate.

I well remember working on economic development in Peckham when the then government announced a task force to "swoop" on the area with pounds 2m to spend. Local views were divided between those who thought that the money would not go far when divided equally between local people, and those who said that it was just not enough to knock the place down. People in deprived areas are deeply cynical of these government initiatives, since they know that what is really necessary to tackle poverty is a matter of action on low wages, high unemployment, low benefits, and a regressive tax system.

If Mr Brown wants to tackle poverty, then he should stay in the Treasury working on the tax system, and stop swooping on estates, which will only alarm the residents.

ALAN TAYLOR

London SE24

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Internal Sales Executive

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Finance / Accounts Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established and expanding ...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Locksmith / Engineer / Technician

£14000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading Key Cutting equipm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband contends with difficult questions from Jeremy Paxman  

Battle for Number 10: Miliband survives a rough ride but Cameron takes the edge in first TV battle

John Curtice
Prime Minister David Cameron is interview by Jeremy Paxman  

The TV non-debate: Miliband does better than expected, but not better than Cameron

John Rentoul
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss