What are the advantages and disadvantages of area approaches to tackling poverty and deprivation?
By Lauren Wright, word limit 25000 words
Poverty and deprivation remains a vast problem in the United Kingdom, charity Oxfam (2013) reveals that 1 in 5 households are living under the poverty line making daily life a struggle. The UK government has implemented area-based approaches in order to tackle poverty and deprivation since the 1960s, these initiatives target geographical areas that experience high levels of poverty and deprivation. These methods have always provoked diverse reactions with differences in opinions of the pros and cons they display to communities, individuals and society as a whole and whether it is an effective approach.
Poverty is defined in a number of ways, usually the approach used is relative income poverty, where a household income is compared to the median income and those families that receive less than 60% of the median income are classified to living in poverty (Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2014). Deprivation however is a broader notion than poverty and refers to not only a lack of financial resources, but access to services and a lack of opportunities.
Area-based targeting in regeneration and social policy has been used by governments since the 1960s. The 1967 Plowden Report, written by Bridget Plowden was the initiative report in history that believed that children were the chief beneficiary of the new proposals within the report (Watson 2013). The primary recommendation of the report was the proposal to set up Educational Priority Areas, Plowden proposed for resources to be increased to the 2 per cent most deprived areas and their schools, building up to a further 10 percent over 5 years. A number of criteria’s were suggested in order to select areas to receive additional resources such as family size, social class, poor attendance and the number of children able to speak English (Blackstone 1967).
Rapid deindustrialisation in the 1970s brought growing social polarisation and rising crime in Britain’s inner cities (Crowley et al 2012) that prompted the development of urban policy an area-based initiatives to try and tackle these problems. Since then, the UK government has calculated levels of deprivation in England with a qualitative study called ‘The Index of Multiple Deprivation’, and area-based anti-poverty strategies use this to target areas in most need. The English Indices of Deprivation measure a wider concept of multiple deprivation and measures at a small area level. There are seven distinct domains that are used to construct the English indices of deprivation, including income, employment, health and disability, education and training skills, barriers to housing and services and environment deprivation and crime (Department for Communities and Local Government 2011, 12). Different areas of England are ranked according to their index of multiple deprivation score and the report reveals the most and...