Saturday, 10 May 2008

Social mix and attachment The debate over social mix continues, which in itself is not a bad thing. Here's something from a report on The influence of neighbourhood deprivation on people's attachment to places, published by JRF and the Chartered Institute of Housing today: 'In general, high levels of mix of various sorts do not have much of a negative effect upon attachment. Indeed, some dimensions of mix (notably tenure and education) can be good for attachment. Where policy creates new communities, this research suggests that the most beneficial form of mix to consider is a mix of educational levels.' (Attachment is assumed to be a Good Thing). The summary points out that: 'Higher levels of social mix are not generally associated with lower levels of attachment' and also suggests that 'it might be useful to find ways of recognising or valuing local connections when assessing applications for social housing, since this may help to strengthen existing networks.' Indeed - noting that suggestions like this tend to get made in a tentative way, I'm gathering a little collection because I suspect/hope that there is some momentum building, and we'll gradually start whispering more loudly. Summary. Full report. Meanwhile, yesterday we had a report from the Dept for Work and Pensions, on Social housing and worklessness: key policy messages, coming a little while after this literature review. I still wonder about the government's new-found purpose in addressing 'worklessness' wherever it thinks it can be hit. I was struck by this paragraph: 'It is questionable whether interventions intended to diversify the social mix in existing areas of social housing will have a substantial impact on levels of worklessness for two key reasons. First, there are various practical challenges associated with the creation of more mixed-income communities. Second, it is questionable whether the promotion of social mix will effectively address social polarisation and concentrations of worklessness in areas of social housing. Disadvantage in the labour market was far more commonly associated with personal disadvantages and roles and responsibilities that were incompatible with work, rather than anything intrinsic about where people were living. This is not to suggest that gains might not be forthcoming from the promotion of social mix, but to point to the importance of such activities being complementary to efforts to improve the incomes and support the livelihoods of existing residents of disadvantaged areas.'

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