New and emerging governance structures in England, Scotland and Wales need a more integrated approach to tackling worklessness and other economic problems facing deprived areas. This is according to research by David North, published today (29 October) by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Transforming Places programme.
The coordination needed to tackle the economic problems of deprived areas is hampered by a "fragmented and often unaccountable" governance system. The research found that most national and regional level economic strategies do not include any significant attempt to link employment generation and business opportunities to the needs of deprived areas, although there are signs that this is changing. While political devolution in Scotland, Wales and London has produced greater attention to the needs of deprived areas and populations it has yet to translate into major changes on the ground.
Within current policy, concerns over tackling worklessness provide one of the strongest cases for integrating the economic and social agendas. The report highlights that the current system encourages welfare-to-work organisations to play down the fact that many low-paid "entry-level" jobs offer few prospects for developing skills and moving out of poverty.
Another report, also published today by the Transforming Places programme, found that low wages are a key factor in understanding how people are constrained in their job search. Most young people considered it was not worth travelling far for a low wage, however, they did indicate that they would be willing to travel further for a job offering more money and better prospects.
The report, by Anne Green and Richard White, which took place in three New Deal for Communities areas, found that policy does not take into account the powerful attachment some young people have to their local area when it comes to making life choices. Friends and family provide useful support to some young people, but reliance on friends and family can influence their choice of priorities and restrict choices to familiar options and locations. In some cases, young people appeared content to trade off a reduced set of opportunities in favour of staying near to family and friends.
There is a strong case for broadening the horizons of all young people, not just those with the most limited outlooks, to enable them to make informed choices about all the education, training and employment opportunities available to them.
The report found that the following initiatives were helpful to young people in helping them to considering wider opportunities: