An onslaught on the “unacceptable culture of worklessness” that
exists in some of the country’s most deprived neighbourhoods was
launched by the chancellor of the exchequer last week.
Speaking at the Urban Summit in Birmingham, Gordon Brown told the
1,500 delegates that poverty could only be addressed if “solutions
to the persistent and chronic problem of unemployment” were
He said that in some deprived areas high unemployment existed
alongside vacancies but people did not have the skills to do the
jobs on offer. He said that his pre-budget report, due next month,
would feature ways to break the culture of “no one works around
The government would provide help with training and increasing the
employability of people, with an emphasis on improving literacy and
numeracy. But in return, Brown said the government would “expect
people to take jobs that are available”.
Meanwhile, the conference was told that a huge investment in the
development of ethnic minority community leaders was essential if
neighbourhood renewal was to be a success.
Stafford Scott, who works for the Bernie Grant Trust and runs a
community leadership programme funded by the Department for
Education and Skills, told a fringe meeting that community leaders
were “the missing link” between communities and local government
and that without them the regeneration agenda would fail.
“We believe that if regeneration is going to be real, we need to
develop leadership within our communities. Community leaders can
bridge the gap between key stakeholders if they are listened to,”
Chief executive of Turning Point Victor Adebowale called for money
to be available to pay community leaders, many of whom spent time
equivalent to that of a full-time job fulfilling their community
“Frankly, it is outrageous that community leaders do not get paid
for their input when trustees of primary care trusts and many other
organisations do,” Adebowale said.