Headlines: September 22nd, 2004

A new range of cross-Government measures has been launched to tackle persisting pockets of worklessness across the country. The aim is to end pockets of unemployment, which exist in all neighbourhoods, despite unemployment being at a 30-year low.Low-cost home ownership will be promoted through job centres to increase employment in areas of chronic worklessness. This move is designed to counter recent house price rises and give tenants who currently rent properties a stake in their local community as well as acting as an incentive to take up and stay in work. There will also be more help for people wanting to leave benefits and become self-employed and business support services will be adapted to help those with unregistered businesses to ‘go legit’. In addition people facing complex problems will benefit from greater use of outreach services and community-based advisers.

The new measures respond to research which shows that worklessness in the tenth worst streets is 23 times higher than in the best, and that self-employment in these areas is half the rate of England as a whole. It also shows that those living in areas of high worklessness have lower expectations of starting a job, and are less likely to start one.

The problem occurs up and down the country and can be found in relatively prosperous areas, as well as districts that traditionally appear on the list of the most deprived. However six out of 10 of the areas are found in the Northeast, Northwest and Yorkshire and the Humber. Economic deprivation is closely linked to social exclusion and a wide range of social problems. People who live in deprived areas are 2.5 times more likely to say that crime and anti-social behaviour are a serious problem. Children in deprived areas do worse in test scores as young as 4 years old- even allowing for their family background.