The Joseph Rowntree Foundation wants a debate on the long term prospects for tackling disadvantage. In a report: ‘Tackling Disadvantage – A 20 Year Enterprise’, it argues that the gap that has widened over the last two decades can be narrowed and relative poverty reduced to a minimum. The document sets out the steps needed in the next few years to ensure that the poorest groups in society achieve a fairer share of the nation’s growing prosperity.The report highlights the way in which economically impoverished groups are disproportionately likely to experience problems ranging from poor health to crime. It sets out evidence that a wide range of difficulties among young people including low school attainment to mental health disorders are more common among children from low-income families.
Long-term policy goals set out in the report include greater investment in schools serving disadvantaged areas to ensure that low-income students benefit from teachers, facilities and resources that are at least as good as those for pupils elsewhere. Better support for children and families, including childcare provision and initiatives to reduce the number of young people who become parents in their teens or early 20s is called for. There is also an appeal for a new approach to housing supply where society accepts the importance of tackling the overall shortage of homes as well as expanding provision for ‘key workers’ and others who cannot afford market prices.