By Ruth Lupton
ISBN 1861345364, £50 (hardback)
ISBN 1861345356, £21.99 (paperback)
Ruth Lupton, in this valuable study, shows how government has attempted to regenerate deprived areas by examining what has happened in 12 of the most deprived neighbourhoods. She gives particular attention to the New Labour government which, in 1997, launched its National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal.
There have been successes. More residents are in jobs. More facilities have been provided. However, residents have not been allowed real power over local policies. The goal of closing the gap between the most disadvantaged and most advantaged neighbourhoods is not in sight.
The author could have said more about the government’s failure to fund locally run community groups with their potential for employing residents. She also gives insufficient attention to the contribution of faith bodies.
Having just attended, in Birmingham, a conference of Christians who live and work on council estates, I am impressed by their social involvement.
This is not to say that community groups and faith agencies are the answer. As Lupton observes, until government is prepared to redistributes income and wealth in a radical way, the poor will always be in the poorest places.
Bob Holman is the author of Kids at the Door Revisited (Russell House, 2000).