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Geo file 412

Garrett Nagle


Deprivation in the UK Figure 1: The inner city’s web of decline, deprivation and despair

According to the Joseph Rowntree

• 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 Source: Matthews (1991)
funerals or having celebrations on
special occasions. Figure 2: Summary of poverty and social exclusion indicators

Between 1983 and 1990 the number of Indicator Trend

households living in poverty grew Over the medium Over latest year
from 14 per cent to 21 per cent of the term
population. By 1999 the figure was Income
higher still, at more than 24 per cent. 1. Gap between low and median income Steady Steady
However, the number of households 2. Individuals with low income
(below 50% of average income) Worsened Steady
defined as living in chronic, long-
3. Intensity of low income
term poverty fell from 4 per cent to (below 40% of average income) Worsened Worsened
2.5 per cent.
4. Children in workless households Improved Improved
The nature of deprivation in 5. Children in low-income households Worsened Steady
the UK 6. Low birthweight babies (%) Steady Worsened
7. Pupils gaining no GCSE above grade D Improved Improved
The Government’s New Policy 8. Permanently excluded from school Worsened Improved
Institute provides some of the most 9. Children whose parents divorce Improved Steady
comprehensive and up-to-date social Young adults
data available. These suggest that the 10. Unemployed (16–24) Improved Steady
nature of deprivation is both 11. On low rates of pay (16–24) Steady Steady
widepread (Figure 1) and changing 12. Problem drug use (15–24) Worsened Worsened
(Figure 2). For example, the number 13. Suicide (15–24) Steady Steady
of people living in households with Adults aged 25 to retirement
less than half of the average national 14. On low rates of pay Steady Steady
income has more than doubled since 15. Insecure at work Steady Improved
the 1980s. On the other hand, levels of Older people
overcrowding and the numbers of 16. Pensioners with no private income Worsened Worsened
low-income households without 17. Long-standing illness or disability Steady Improved
central heating have both reduced
substantially over the last five years. 18. Burglary Improved Improved
But the number of households in 19. Without central heating Improved Improved
temporary accommodation continues 20. Overcrowding Improved Improved

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January 2002 no.412 Urban and Rural Deprivation in the UK

Figure 3: Most severely deprived 16 to 24-year-olds who were suburban deprivation is on the
districts in England, 1991 unemployed earlier this year, and the increase too.
million in work who were being paid
Ranking District less than half the male median hourly
1 Newham
Ethnic minorities in the inner
2 Southwark city
3 Hackney The majority of the UK’s ethnic
4 Islington Urban deprivation
population live in urban areas,
5 Birmingham Deprivation in urban areas is particularly in the inner cities. They
6 Liverpool widespread (Figure 3). The most are associated with high levels of
7 Tower Hamlets severely deprived districts in England deprivation. Across all conurbations,
8 Lambeth are in large urban areas;10 of the 15 Bangladeshis live in the most
9 Sandwell most deprived districts are in deprived wards, followed by
10 Haringey London. This is somewhat surprising, Pakistanis and Caribbeans.
11 Lewisham given the strength of the economy in
12 Knowsley London and the South East. However, The reasons for living in a particular
13 Manchester within the urban areas there is a clear conurbation are likely to be largely
14 Greenwich inner city/suburban contrast. This is historical. Location within that
15 Camden clearly shown in the map of conurbation is likely to be more
16 Hammersmith and deprivation in London (Figure 4) and closely related to current
Fulham the map of standardised mortality circumstances. High concentrations of
17 Newcastle upon Tyne rates (Figure 5). Nevertheless, ethnic minority communities are
18 Barking and
Dagenham Figure 4: Index of deprivation in London, by borough, 1991
19 Kensington and
20 Waltham Forest
21 Wandsworth
22 South Tyneside
23 Bradford
24 Middlesbrough
25 Nottingham
26 Westminster, City of
27 Wolverhampton
28 Salford
29 Brent
30 Blackpool

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
Source: Department of the Environment
Significant health inequalities persist.
Premature deaths are becoming more Figure 5: Standard mortality ratios in London, 1995
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 Source: Guinness and Nagle (1999)

Geofile Online © Nelson Thornes 2002

January 2002 no.412 Urban and Rural Deprivation in the UK

principally an urban phenomenon, • public transport that has not rapidly during the 19th century to
more typical of London than of other adapted to changing needs, leading power the nation’s industrialisation,
cities. However, unlike other cities, to increasing dependency on cars; and often became places primarily
concentration in London is higher in • large areas of ageing housing of a dependent on a single industry.
the outer city than the inner city. single type, that has been little During the late 1980s and early 1990s,
adapted to changing housing Britain’s coal mining industry
London and the West Midlands are needs and social patterns. collapsed dramatically. This
the two conurbations with the highest destroyed at a stroke the economic
concentration of people from ethnic Change is occurring in many places, livelihood of many coalfield villages,
minority groups. but in a piecemeal fashion; rupturing their cultural and social
opportunities for improvement are fabric, and precipitated a deep sense
• Overall, Bangladeshis and
being lost. There are many parts of of loss. Coalfields are unique in
Pakistanis live in wards with the
suburbia that are visually attractive, character. Neither rural nor urban,
highest concentrations of people
socially popular, economically stable their run-down housing estates share
from ethnic minorities. Across all
and having a strong sense of the social problems of the worst urban
conurbations, Indians/African-
community, making it wrong to areas, while their isolation is
Asians and Pakistanis tend to live
stereotype all suburbs in a negative comparable to that of other rural
in wards where their own ethnic
way. areas.
group accounts for approximately
half of all minority ethnic groups. There have been many national
Deprivation in rural areas policies in response to coalfield
However, there is variation between decline as well as local, community-
Many parts of rural Britain experience
conurbations: based initiatives. Government and EU
deprivation and have problems linked
• In the West Midlands, the with poverty and unemployment. funding has supported environmental
Caribbean, Pakistani and Deprivation takes many forms, such improvements, including a clear-up of
Bangladeshi populations are more as a lack of affordable housing, much of the dereliction caused by
concentrated than they are in employment opportunities, transport mining. British Coal Enterprises and
London, but the Indian etc. Provision of social housing in other regeneration agencies have been
population is more dispersed. rural areas is not sufficient in itself to less successful, however, in creating
• Pakistanis in West Yorkshire live sustain socially mixed communities. training, employment and business
in wards with the highest In many rural areas of England there opportunities. Some jobs have been
concentration of any ethnic are problems of access to affordable created, but there has been little
minority group in any housing. House prices have been growth of small and medium-sized
conurbation. driven up by the desirability of living businesses, and even less development
• In London, in contrast with other in the countryside and the already low in high-tech manufacturing. A wide
conurbations, the proportion of level of provision of council housing range of community initiatives have
the population from an ethnic in rural areas has been further provided alternative types of work
minority is highest in the outer diminished by “right to buy” sales. and services. Programmes with a high
parts of the city. This suggests that level of contact and involvement of
there is something different about In recent years, registered social local people have generally been more
the inner and outer city divide in landlords (RSLs) – mostly housing successful than “top down” initiatives
London compared with other associations – have become the main started and led by statutory agencies.
cities. providers of new social rented
housing. Affordable homes rented Many coalfields remain blighted by
from rural housing associations play a severe socio-economic problems
Suburban deprivation welcome part in preventing young relating to unemployment, long-term
Suburbs house the majority of people and others with low incomes sickness and poverty. Poverty affects
Britain’s urban population. Suburban from being forced out of their own those in employment as well as the
Britain has been neglected in current villages by rising house prices. But unemployed, because new jobs tend to
debates about population and housing such provision is patchy, and it is the be low-paid. As a result, the coalfields
change. There have been few recent availability of jobs that largely have become places with poor
studies examining the future determines whether young people infrastructure, high levels of ill-health
development of suburbs. stay or abandon the countryside. and unemployment.

Looking at different areas of The availability of social housing Persistent economic inactivity,
Birmingham, Bristol, London and varies widely in rural areas – even poverty and related problems
Tyneside, some suburbs are becoming between neighbouring villages. The continue to characterise these places.
less stable in terms of their local communities with the best supply of Job losses in other sectors and cuts in
economies, social structure and affordable homes for rent, ironically, local government expenditure have
environment. Symptoms include: tend to be those with the greatest exacerbated the problems. Reduced
concentrations of poverty and employment opportunities and
• deteriorating community facilities, diminished service and facility
unemployment, such as former
including community centres, provision compound the
mining villages.
health facilities and local green marginalisation of coalfield
space; communities.
• declining local shopping centres Coalfields and deprivation
and parades, with outdated Britain’s coalfields in northern Attracting investment in
facilities and a gradual loss of jobs; England and South Wales developed manufacturing or in service activities,

Geofile Online © Nelson Thornes 2002

January 2002 no.412 Urban and Rural Deprivation in the UK

Figure 6: Factors associated with deprivation of economic activity, low wages and
the environmental and social
Social background • Being in a higher social class is associated with problems that stem from poverty
lower relative deprivation. remain.
Religion • Respondents for whom religion is very important
live in more deprived wards than those with no Conclusion
religion or for whom religion is not important.
• Among South Asians, Muslims tend to live in wards The UK is a relatively rich country.
with a high level of relative deprivation and a high On a global scale it is very much part
minority ethnic concentration. Hindus and Sikhs, on of the developed world and it is
the other hand, live in wards with quite high classified as an MEDC. However,
concentration but a low level of deprivation. within the UK there are severe
• Among Indians and African-Asians, Sikhs live in
wards with a slightly lower level of relative
variations in standards of living. The
deprivation than do Hindus. Conversely, Muslims lower end of the wealth scale is
live in wards with a higher level of deprivation. characterised by deprivation, and the
nature of deprivation is very varied. It
Household composition • Where a family is mixed, with a white member plus a is not confined to inner cities or
member from a minority ethnic group, the level of
deprivation is very low, comparable to that of all-
ethnic minorities, affecting suburban
white partnerships. Although those in all-Indian and rural areas too, as well as all
partnerships may live in areas of low deprivation, ethnic groups including the white
they may also live in areas of high minority population. It is widespread and
concentration. changing.
• Couples without children tend to live in wards with
lower deprivation. They also tend to live in more Bibliography and
mixed populations, although this pattern is not
nearly so marked. recommended reading
Skills and employment • Higher levels of qualification are associated with Chamba, R., et al. (1999), On the Edge:
lower levels of deprivation. The same overall pattern Minority Ethnic Families Caring for a
is evident when considering minority concentration, Severely Disabled Chil, The Policy
albeit less marked. Press.
• For minorities, being educated to A-level standard Gordon, D., et al. (2000) Poverty and
or higher reduces the level of deprivation.
• Individuals with higher incomes are less likely to live
Social Exclusion in Britain, Joseph
in deprived wards. Rowntree Founation
• The more paid workers there are in a household, Gwilliam, M., et al. (1999) Sustainable
the lower is the level of general deprivation of the Suburbs, Joseph Rowntree
ward in which they live. For ethnic minorities, Foundation.
concentration varies in a similar way. Matthews, H. (1991) British Inner
• Households with a higher level of income are more Cities, OUP.
likely to be in wards with a low level of deprivation Power, A., and Mumford, K. (1999)
and ethnic minority concentration. The Slow Death of Great Cities? Urban
Tenure • For all ethnic groups, owner-occupiers are more abandonment or urban renaissance,
likely to live in areas with lower relative deprivation Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
than are people who rent. Rahman, M., et al. (2000) Monitoring
• Those who own or are buying property which was poverty and social exclusion, Joseph
previously privately owned live in less deprived Rowntree Foundation.
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

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

such as call centres, does not In short, little progress has been made
necessarily alleviate problems of in rebuilding the productive capacity
poverty. Often the prime attraction of the former coal districts around
for such companies is the availability new economic activities. As a result,
of large numbers of people in search high rates of unemployment, low rates
of work. Companies are able to recruit
rigorously and selectively to build up
workforces who are willing to work
Focus Questions
flexibly for low wages, frequently in 1. Suggest reasons why people in inner cities may experience
non-unionised workplaces. Work is deprivation.
often part-time and sometimes
temporary. Women regularly take up 2. Apart from the characteristics in Figure 2, suggest other indicators that
the new jobs; this can create problems may characterise deprivation.
within mining communities with a
strong tradition of men supporting 3. Complete a diagram similar to Figure 1 outlining the nature of problems
their families. in rural areas.

Geofile Online © Nelson Thornes 2002