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Geo file

Deprivation in the UK
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation: • Around 9.5 million people cannot afford to keep their homes adequately heated, free from damp or in a decent state of decoration – the housing conditions that most people regard as “adequate”. • Some 8 million people cannot afford one or more essential household items such as a fridge, a telephone or carpets for the living areas in their homes. • Around 4 million people are not fed properly by today’s standards. For example, they do not have fresh fruit and vegetables, or two meals a day. • Some 6.5 million adults go without essential clothing – such as a warm, waterproof coat – because of lack of money. • Almost 7.5 million people are too poor to engage in “normal” social activities, like visiting friends and family, attending weddings and funerals or having celebrations on special occasions. Between 1983 and 1990 the number of households living in poverty grew from 14 per cent to 21 per cent of the population. By 1999 the figure was higher still, at more than 24 per cent. However, the number of households defined as living in chronic, longterm poverty fell from 4 per cent to 2.5 per cent.


JANUARY 2002 412 Garrett Nagle

Figure 1: The inner city’s web of decline, deprivation and despair

Source: Matthews (1991)

Figure 2: Summary of poverty and social exclusion indicators
Indicator Trend Over the medium Over latest year term
Steady Worsened Worsened Improved Worsened Steady Improved Worsened Improved Improved Steady Worsened Steady Steady Steady Worsened Steady Improved Improved Improved Steady Steady Worsened Improved Steady Worsened Improved Improved Steady Steady Steady Worsened Steady Steady Improved Worsened Improved Improved Improved Improved

Income 1. Gap between low and median income 2. Individuals with low income (below 50% of average income) 3. Intensity of low income (below 40% of average income) Children 4. Children in workless households 5. Children in low-income households 6. Low birthweight babies (%) 7. Pupils gaining no GCSE above grade D 8. Permanently excluded from school 9. Children whose parents divorce Young adults 10. Unemployed (16–24) 11. On low rates of pay (16–24) 12. Problem drug use (15–24) 13. Suicide (15–24) Adults aged 25 to retirement 14. On low rates of pay 15. Insecure at work Older people 16. Pensioners with no private income 17. Long-standing illness or disability Communities 18. Burglary 19. Without central heating 20. Overcrowding

The nature of deprivation in the UK
The Government’s New Policy Institute provides some of the most comprehensive and up-to-date social data available. These suggest that the nature of deprivation is both widepread (Figure 1) and changing (Figure 2). For example, the number of people living in households with less than half of the average national income has more than doubled since the 1980s. On the other hand, levels of overcrowding and the numbers of low-income households without central heating have both reduced substantially over the last five years. But the number of households in temporary accommodation continues
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January 2002 no.412 Urban and Rural Deprivation in the UK Figure 3: Most severely deprived districts in England, 1991
Ranking 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 District Newham Southwark Hackney Islington Birmingham Liverpool Tower Hamlets Lambeth Sandwell Haringey Lewisham Knowsley Manchester Greenwich Camden Hammersmith and Fulham Newcastle upon Tyne Barking and Dagenham Kensington and Chelsea Waltham Forest Wandsworth South Tyneside Bradford Middlesbrough Nottingham Westminster, City of Wolverhampton Salford Brent Blackpool

16 to 24-year-olds who were unemployed earlier this year, and the million in work who were being paid less than half the male median hourly wage.

suburban deprivation is on the increase too.

Ethnic minorities in the inner city
The majority of the UK’s ethnic population live in urban areas, particularly in the inner cities. They are associated with high levels of deprivation. Across all conurbations, Bangladeshis live in the most deprived wards, followed by Pakistanis and Caribbeans. The reasons for living in a particular conurbation are likely to be largely historical. Location within that conurbation is likely to be more closely related to current circumstances. High concentrations of ethnic minority communities are

Urban deprivation
Deprivation in urban areas is widespread (Figure 3). The most severely deprived districts in England are in large urban areas;10 of the 15 most deprived districts are in London. This is somewhat surprising, given the strength of the economy in London and the South East. However, within the urban areas there is a clear inner city/suburban contrast. This is clearly shown in the map of deprivation in London (Figure 4) and the map of standardised mortality rates (Figure 5). Nevertheless,

Figure 4: Index of deprivation in London, by borough, 1991

Source: Department of the Environment

to rise sharply, and the poorest pensioners are twice as likely to live in badly insulated housing as the best-off pensioners.
Source: Department of the Environment

Significant health inequalities persist. Premature deaths are becoming more geographically concentrated, children in the manual social classes are twice as likely to die in an accident as those in the non-manual classes, and the poorest two-fifths of the population are one and a half times as likely to be at risk of a mental illness as the richest two-fifths. Although the number of unemployed people has fallen since 1993 from 3 million to 1 million, official surveys have identified a growing number of “economically inactive” people who say they want work. However, there has also been an increase in the number of households where no one has worked for two years or more, over the same period. The continuing economic vulnerability of young adults is indicated by the half million
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Figure 5: Standard mortality ratios in London, 1995

Source: Guinness and Nagle (1999)

January 2002 no.412 Urban and Rural Deprivation in the UK principally an urban phenomenon, more typical of London than of other cities. However, unlike other cities, concentration in London is higher in the outer city than the inner city. London and the West Midlands are the two conurbations with the highest concentration of people from ethnic minority groups. • Overall, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis live in wards with the highest concentrations of people from ethnic minorities. Across all conurbations, Indians/AfricanAsians and Pakistanis tend to live in wards where their own ethnic group accounts for approximately half of all minority ethnic groups. However, there is variation between conurbations: • In the West Midlands, the Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations are more concentrated than they are in London, but the Indian population is more dispersed. • Pakistanis in West Yorkshire live in wards with the highest concentration of any ethnic minority group in any conurbation. • In London, in contrast with other conurbations, the proportion of the population from an ethnic minority is highest in the outer parts of the city. This suggests that there is something different about the inner and outer city divide in London compared with other cities. • public transport that has not adapted to changing needs, leading to increasing dependency on cars; • large areas of ageing housing of a single type, that has been little adapted to changing housing needs and social patterns. Change is occurring in many places, but in a piecemeal fashion; opportunities for improvement are being lost. There are many parts of suburbia that are visually attractive, socially popular, economically stable and having a strong sense of community, making it wrong to stereotype all suburbs in a negative way. rapidly during the 19th century to power the nation’s industrialisation, and often became places primarily dependent on a single industry. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Britain’s coal mining industry collapsed dramatically. This destroyed at a stroke the economic livelihood of many coalfield villages, rupturing their cultural and social fabric, and precipitated a deep sense of loss. Coalfields are unique in character. Neither rural nor urban, their run-down housing estates share the social problems of the worst urban areas, while their isolation is comparable to that of other rural areas. There have been many national policies in response to coalfield decline as well as local, communitybased initiatives. Government and EU funding has supported environmental improvements, including a clear-up of much of the dereliction caused by mining. British Coal Enterprises and other regeneration agencies have been less successful, however, in creating training, employment and business opportunities. Some jobs have been created, but there has been little growth of small and medium-sized businesses, and even less development in high-tech manufacturing. A wide range of community initiatives have provided alternative types of work and services. Programmes with a high level of contact and involvement of local people have generally been more successful than “top down” initiatives started and led by statutory agencies. Many coalfields remain blighted by severe socio-economic problems relating to unemployment, long-term sickness and poverty. Poverty affects those in employment as well as the unemployed, because new jobs tend to be low-paid. As a result, the coalfields have become places with poor infrastructure, high levels of ill-health and unemployment. Persistent economic inactivity, poverty and related problems continue to characterise these places. Job losses in other sectors and cuts in local government expenditure have exacerbated the problems. Reduced employment opportunities and diminished service and facility provision compound the marginalisation of coalfield communities. Attracting investment in manufacturing or in service activities,

Deprivation in rural areas
Many parts of rural Britain experience deprivation and have problems linked with poverty and unemployment. Deprivation takes many forms, such as a lack of affordable housing, employment opportunities, transport etc. Provision of social housing in rural areas is not sufficient in itself to sustain socially mixed communities. In many rural areas of England there are problems of access to affordable housing. House prices have been driven up by the desirability of living in the countryside and the already low level of provision of council housing in rural areas has been further diminished by “right to buy” sales. In recent years, registered social landlords (RSLs) – mostly housing associations – have become the main providers of new social rented housing. Affordable homes rented from rural housing associations play a welcome part in preventing young people and others with low incomes from being forced out of their own villages by rising house prices. But such provision is patchy, and it is the availability of jobs that largely determines whether young people stay or abandon the countryside. The availability of social housing varies widely in rural areas – even between neighbouring villages. The communities with the best supply of affordable homes for rent, ironically, tend to be those with the greatest concentrations of poverty and unemployment, such as former mining villages.

Suburban deprivation
Suburbs house the majority of Britain’s urban population. Suburban Britain has been neglected in current debates about population and housing change. There have been few recent studies examining the future development of suburbs. Looking at different areas of Birmingham, Bristol, London and Tyneside, some suburbs are becoming less stable in terms of their local economies, social structure and environment. Symptoms include: • deteriorating community facilities, including community centres, health facilities and local green space; • declining local shopping centres and parades, with outdated facilities and a gradual loss of jobs;
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Coalfields and deprivation
Britain’s coalfields in northern England and South Wales developed

January 2002 no.412 Urban and Rural Deprivation in the UK Figure 6: Factors associated with deprivation
Social background Religion • Being in a higher social class is associated with lower relative deprivation. • Respondents for whom religion is very important live in more deprived wards than those with no religion or for whom religion is not important. • Among South Asians, Muslims tend to live in wards with a high level of relative deprivation and a high minority ethnic concentration. Hindus and Sikhs, on the other hand, live in wards with quite high concentration but a low level of deprivation. • Among Indians and African-Asians, Sikhs live in wards with a slightly lower level of relative deprivation than do Hindus. Conversely, Muslims live in wards with a higher level of deprivation. • Where a family is mixed, with a white member plus a member from a minority ethnic group, the level of deprivation is very low, comparable to that of allwhite partnerships. Although those in all-Indian partnerships may live in areas of low deprivation, they may also live in areas of high minority concentration. • Couples without children tend to live in wards with lower deprivation. They also tend to live in more mixed populations, although this pattern is not nearly so marked. • Higher levels of qualification are associated with lower levels of deprivation. The same overall pattern is evident when considering minority concentration, albeit less marked. • For minorities, being educated to A-level standard or higher reduces the level of deprivation. • Individuals with higher incomes are less likely to live in deprived wards. • The more paid workers there are in a household, the lower is the level of general deprivation of the ward in which they live. For ethnic minorities, concentration varies in a similar way. • Households with a higher level of income are more likely to be in wards with a low level of deprivation and ethnic minority concentration. • For all ethnic groups, owner-occupiers are more likely to live in areas with lower relative deprivation than are people who rent. • Those who own or are buying property which was previously privately owned live in less deprived wards than those with other types of tenure. People from ethnic minorities who are in social housing or shared accommodation live in the most deprived areas.

of economic activity, low wages and the environmental and social problems that stem from poverty remain.

The UK is a relatively rich country. On a global scale it is very much part of the developed world and it is classified as an MEDC. However, within the UK there are severe variations in standards of living. The lower end of the wealth scale is characterised by deprivation, and the nature of deprivation is very varied. It is not confined to inner cities or ethnic minorities, affecting suburban and rural areas too, as well as all ethnic groups including the white population. It is widespread and changing.

Household composition

Bibliography and recommended reading
Chamba, R., et al. (1999), On the Edge: Minority Ethnic Families Caring for a Severely Disabled Chil, The Policy Press. Gordon, D., et al. (2000) Poverty and Social Exclusion in Britain, Joseph Rowntree Founation Gwilliam, M., et al. (1999) Sustainable Suburbs, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Matthews, H. (1991) British Inner Cities, OUP. Power, A., and Mumford, K. (1999) The Slow Death of Great Cities? Urban abandonment or urban renaissance, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Rahman, M., et al. (2000) Monitoring poverty and social exclusion, Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Skills and employment


(Adapted from Dorsett, R., Ethnic Minorities in the Inner City, The Policy Press.)

such as call centres, does not necessarily alleviate problems of poverty. Often the prime attraction for such companies is the availability of large numbers of people in search of work. Companies are able to recruit rigorously and selectively to build up workforces who are willing to work flexibly for low wages, frequently in non-unionised workplaces. Work is often part-time and sometimes temporary. Women regularly take up the new jobs; this can create problems within mining communities with a strong tradition of men supporting their families.
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In short, little progress has been made in rebuilding the productive capacity of the former coal districts around new economic activities. As a result, high rates of unemployment, low rates

Focus Questions
1. Suggest reasons why people in inner cities may experience deprivation. 2. Apart from the characteristics in Figure 2, suggest other indicators that may characterise deprivation. 3. Complete a diagram similar to Figure 1 outlining the nature of problems in rural areas.