Area-based poverty and resident empowerment

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The gap between the poorest people in Britain and the average has grown significantly since the late 1970s. People in the lowest income groups are increasingly overrepresented in council housing. Most council housing is built in large, separate, single-purpose estates. Therefore area-based poverty has grown. In these areas, housing, income and social factors interact to create steep decline. As conditions became more extreme, local authorities and central government developed special experiments in localisation which had a measurable impact on conditions, involving residents and attracting management effort towards local problems. Estates with the least favourable conditions and most polarised populations received more intensive estates services and often improved through concentrated, long-term support. While residents were involved in and influenced these developments, in only a few cases did they actually take responsibility for or control over services to their area. Where they did this successfully it had the most far-reaching impact on the process of renewal. Localisation, coupled with strong outside support and links to the city, appears to offer a way out of spiralling conditions and growing alienation. Evidence that this change is happening in Britain is borne out by the European experience of estate decline and estate rescue. If localisation of housing services, along with policing, social services, health and education was extended to all large, separate, low-income estates, it would maximise the impact of collective provision on vulnerable communities. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

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  • Anne Power

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