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Mr. Andrew Love (Edmonton): I want to highlight the level of deprivation and social exclusion in my constituency, which is characterised by a weakened economic base resulting in concentrated unemployment and consequently social disadvantage and a poor physical environment. I shall illustrate that with reference to two recent residents' surveys in the area, the first by MORI, which was carried out in our neighbourhood renewal area. The neighbourhood renewal scheme covers the 10 per cent. of most deprived wards in the country, including four wards in my constituency; 30 per cent. of my constituents or 24,000 people live in those wards. Just over 1,000 respondents were interviewed by MORI, which gives the study a reasonably good statistical reliability of plus or minus 3 per cent. A small area study was also carried out in one of my neighbourhood renewal wards, which has about 1,500 residents. Two hundred people responded, so reliability is not as goodplus or minus 7 per cent.
The findings of both studies are interesting. For example, there is a high incidence of households with children43 per cent., compared with a national figure of about 29 per cent. There is a high incidence of one-parent families locally17 per cent., against a national figure of 7 per cent. Perhaps not so surprisingly, the studies showed a large ethnic minority populationabout 43 per cent. If we include the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, that rises to 50 per cent.
The area shows all the classic signs of deprivation and disadvantage, such as low skills35 per cent. have no qualifications at all; povertythe average weekly income in the area is £294, which does not compare well with the London average of £492; low self-esteemonly 26 per cent. of local people think that the area has community spirit, compared with 49 per cent. at national level.
Like many other local authorities, Enfield has a wide variety of area-based initiatives. I mentioned my neighbourhood renewal area, covering four of the most deprived wards. There is also a sure start initiative, involving 67,000 local residents; an objective 2 area for European structural funding, which runs up the eastern side of my constituency; and an education action zone, which stands out a little from all the other initiatives.
The problem is that all the various initiatives overlap in a way that is confusing to local people. There are separate departmental objectives and priorities. Some are driven locally through the local authority, some regionally and some at the departmental level. For example, economic regeneration has become the responsibility of the London Development Agency, but social regeneration is still locally driven.
We often speak of neighbourhoods, but everyone has a different definition of the term. Recently in the London borough of Enfield, the ward level, which has been the traditional proxy for the neighbourhood, has just increased in size by 50 per cent. because of boundary changes.
Last year, following the national consultation exercise carried out by the social exclusion unit, the national strategy action plan entitled "A new commitment to neighbourhood renewal" was produced. That outlined the need for a long-term comprehensive approach to deprivation and tried to address that on the basis that
A neighbourhood renewal fund was created to narrow the gap between the most deprived 10 per cent. of areas and the rest of the country. In Enfield we received £4 million, which was allocated to the four wards that I mentioned over a three-year period. The local authority has chosenrightly, in my viewto include a fifth ward that was not designated, because of the severe disadvantage experienced by people living there.
Within the neighbourhood renewal function, the local authority retains the flexibility to use some of those funds for disadvantaged areas across the entire local authority. As a result, neighbourhood renewal must address health, crime, housing and the environment, and try to narrow the gap between the level of all those services locally and the average across the country.
I accept that that cannot be done without the bending or re-allocation of mainstream services discussed in the report, but I believe that the target is ambitious and the time scale tight. It is important to recognise the pump-priming role of neighbourhood renewal funding in creating new and innovative services and changing the way in which mainstream services are provided in the locality. We need to give careful consideration to the level of resources that will be needed in our neighbourhood renewal function if we are to achieve the objectives that we have set for it.
Similarly, we need to look carefully at and address the significant erosion that there has been in social capital in deprived areas, and my study contained some alarming conclusions. Only 17 per cent. of the population are actively involved in any way in the community, and in the past year, only 15 per cent. have done any voluntary work, and that is against a backdrop nationally of 24 per cent. But perhaps the most surprising finding was that 70 per cent. of people said that they did not want to be involved in any way.
If regeneration is to be successful in such an area, the first thing that we must do is to create a sense of ownership for what is happening in the community, and people must feel involved and empowered through the process. The only way in which that can be achieved is to build capacity locally. That was traditionally a service that was provided through the single regeneration budget, but as the Minister will know, that ended with round 6. Those budgets have now been absorbed into the regional development agencies, and they are given flexibility to pursue their own objectives. The RDAs recently issued a statement saying that they will continue to prioritise social regeneration, but people question how much of a priority will be given to that capacity building.
Last year Enfield received £59,000 in neighbourhood renewal funding. If that is the only source of capacity building, frankly, we will not be able to achieve much, so, again, I should like those budgets to be expanded so that we can address the real decline in social capital locally.
The action plan that was brought forward highlights the need to co-ordinate services and to address the needs of each locality, and it does that through what is called a local strategic partnership. One was set up in each of the 88 designated districts throughout the country. After a pretty sticky start, I have to admit that Enfield's strategic partnership is now up and running and, I believe, functioning effectively. It is certainly bringing together the public, private and voluntary sectors, as was intended.
But the strategic partnership has not yet achieved any links with the local communities that it is supposed to serve. Although a forum that brings together the police, the local authority, the NHS and the education department is a good thing in itself, it will not necessarily end up being accountable to the community. It could just as easily, like many of those services themselves, become remote and unresponsive. We need to create links with the community and to inspire people to become involved, to participate and to support the objectives that we are trying to achieve.
That can best be done through neighbourhood management, and there have been some pathfinders. Sadly, last year, because the view was taken that the local strategic partnership had not developed to the proper extent, Enfield was not included. But if we are to overcome the problems that I think exist in my local neighbourhood renewal area, it is critical that we have one of those neighbourhood management pathfinders in order to carry out our work.
Much of the neighbourhood decline can be traced back to the rise in unemployment that comes when industries move away and, classically, that is what happened in my neighbourhood renewal area, where unemployment levels are significant. I want to illustrate that by drawing a comparison with two other areas, not in Enfield but in the authority next door, which the Minister will know well. One is a new deal for communities area in Seven Sisters and the other is a single regeneration budget area in Northumberland Park. I choose Northumberland Park because it lies immediately adjacent to my neighbourhood renewal area. Both those areas cover a significant population of between 12,000 to 15,000 people.
Unemployment in the ward immediately adjacent to Northumberland Park stands at about 11 per cent. In Northumberland Park, unemployment is 13 per cent. In Seven Sisters, it is 14 per cent. Of the long-term unemployed in my area, one in four have been unemployed for more than a year. Perhaps surprisingly, the study shows that there is a significant lack of motivation among the unemployed84 per cent. are not looking for work. The Government introduced an employment zone to deal with that deep-seated unemployment in the Northumberland Park and Seven Sisters area. That has been a good development. Their evaluation of the past two years of employment zones shows that more than 17,000 jobs have been created in the 15 zones around the countryat no cost to the Government. Extension of employment zones is long overdue. As I am immediately adjacent to the Haringey
Finally, I want to talk about the levels of deprivation and poverty in my area. As I said earlier, the gross weekly wage in the neighbourhood renewal area is around £294 per week, but in the most deprived ward it is as low as £218. If one compares that with Northumberland Park, at £228, or the new deal for communities area, at £239, one realises that the area is very deprived. Thirty per cent. of local people are on housing benefit and 23 per cent. are on income support. One in three people find it extremely difficult to cope on their income.
We have to deal with the multiple problems of deprivation that my constituents face. To do that, we need a range of different programmesa strengthened neighbourhood renewal process, a neighbourhood management pathfinder to link into the community to involve and mobilise it to support what we are trying to achieve, and, perhaps most importantly, an extended employment zone.
Taking forward the neighbourhood renewal objectives is a laudable aim that I wholeheartedly support, but we can achieve the major objective of bringing the 10 per cent. who are most deprived up to the average only by targeting investment and support at the most deprived communities.