Worklessness in deprived neighbourhoods: a review of evidence - UK
A review of the available evidence relating to the problem of high levels of worklessness in deprived neighbourhoods, and the effectiveness of policy interventions to address the problem.
The review provides a brief overview of relevant theoretical frameworks for the analysis of local labour markets. It covers:
- evidence relating to the nature of the worklessness problem in deprived neighbourhoods, including increasing geographical concentration and variability between neighbourhoods
- evidence on the degree to which residents of deprived neighbourhoods cangain access to jobs in the wider local labour market
- barriers to employment deriving from individual and household factors
- evidence of barriers relating to various aspects of the local 'institutional' context and the influence of 'neighbourhood effects'
- evidence on the effectiveness of policy interventions
- categories of active labour market policies
- evidence on national policies and programmes, and local programmes and initiatives.
It concludes by discussing key knowledge gaps and needs for further research, and drawing out key policy implications from the review.
The aim of the review was to gather and assess the available evidence on employment and skills levels in deprived areas, to look at how local labourmarkets operate in relation to such areas, and to assess the effectiveness of recent and current policy initiatives operating at both local and national level in addressing the problems of deprived neighbourhoods.
A comprehensive and rigorous review of the literature (UK-based) was undertaken in three stages:
- the scope of the review was clarified and the review questions set
- literature searches were undertaken across a number of key databases and around 200 documents were identified for inclusion
- the literature was read and reviewed, with summaries made of
their key elements.
There has been an increasing concentration of the problem of persistent worklessness on particular groups and areas. The problem facing policy makers is one of helping people who face a range of difficulties and restraints, not just relating to qualifications, skills and attitudes and motivation to work, but also to their household or family circumstances, and to problems such as poor health and disability, alcohol and drug dependency, homelessness and a record of offending.
Existing labour market policies and programmes, while broadly successful in reducing worklessness, have been less effective in helping these particularly disadvantaged groups and in reducing worklessness in deprived neighbourhoods. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on addressing problems and barriers relating to aspects of the local institutional context, for instance welfare-to-work provision, the benefits system, the availability of childcare and transport, health and welfare services.
There is also a need to work more closely with employers at a local level to seek to influence recruitment practices so as to improve the chances of securing jobs for the long-term unemployed, those with no work experience, ethnic minorities, the disabled, and those with a criminal record.
Department for Communities and Local Government
tel. +44 20 7944 4400
Ian Sanderson (Leeds Metropolitan University)
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