Thursday, 23 May 2013

Poverty in the suburbs Since the global economy went wonky in 2008 I’ve been noticing plenty of signs where poverty becomes apparent in previously unexpected places. Comfortable looking estates and smug blocks of flats with the mild signs of decay, here and there, the wrong peeling of paper, half-hearted front doors and crap on the lawn, and households dropping off the pointed pace of consumer life, some of us end up looking like disoriented ragged joggers who have strayed onto the track in the Olympic 10k final. Now here’s an article in Cities today on the evidence of suburban poverty in the US. It covers the work of researchers Alan Berube and Elizabeth Kneebone, who stress the importance of regional responses because anti-poverty policies designed for dense urban areas ‘transplant poorly onto suburbia’: ‘We’ve seen that the suburban safety net – it’s much thinner, it’s much patchier, and it’s spread over greater distances.’ There’s also a reference to the part played by transport systems in the coming period: ‘It's significantly harder to address poverty through transportation when low-income households in need of it live dispersed over larger areas. Suburbs also simply lack the built-in networks of service providers that have grown up over decades in inner-city communities.’ I will go on pointing out, because I think it's important to do so, that in the UK this austerity is at best unnecessary and a puerile, and very nasty, form of ideological folly. Who can possibly need more evidence? I was speaking last week to someone who still thought that austerity economics was a justifiable response to ‘Labour’s excessive spending.’ Sigh.

Recent Comments