Examine The Contention That Urban Policy Should Focus On Places Rather Than People.

1571 words - 6 pages

Urban Policy looks at ways of regenerating urban areas and reducing poverty levels in certain areas. There have been two main arguments as to which the best method of doing this is, whether you should regenerate 'the people' i.e. training, education or the place, i.e. the local economy and buildings etc. In the UK, thirteen million of the fifty eight million population, are classified as poor. There is and always has been a great need for urban policy on regeneration in an attempt to lift this thirteen million people over the poverty level. There has been three of ways since the 1960's in which this has been attempted. In 1970 the Conservative party started a socially driven attempted to reduce poverty in urban areas, this was later taken over by labour in 1974 until the conservatives once again took power in 1979. This time under Margaret Thatcher, who took a new view on urban regeneration. She believed that rather than helping the people, you need to first help the economy and so, took an economic focus, and she concentrated on the place rather than the people. It wasn't until 1990 when John Major took over, that the policy changed again to a hybrid of the periods of urban policy. He introduced a socio-economic policy, concentrating not just on the economy or the social aspects but also on how the effect one another and how you make them help each other.The reign of the conservatives (1970-1974) followed by labour (1974-1979) saw the start of urban policy, known as 'The Urban Programme,' this is one of the only urban policies that are still in place today. In this programme, $20 million a year was put up for local communities (CDP's) to bid for, the condition being that they had to be spent on socially oriented goals such as education, health and training programs. In other words, asking the people to help themselves. This becomes a completely new issue at this point. Asking people to help themselves is a risky business according to Oscar Lewis (1966), who believed that people were in poverty because they were lazy and lacked ambition. He believed that poverty was caused by traits in a personality rather than social factors. So if we were to believe Lewis, then this system would fail as it involved the people helping themselves. Lewis also saw that an area being in poverty was due to individuals rather than a community, thus community based projects were bound to fail. Now, although this method of urban policy was not successful, I very much doubt that it was due to the reasons that Oscar Lewis believed. It was found that the problems in the UK British cities were getting worse, and this was due to deindustrialisation. The positive effects of urban policy, however few, were being masked by the massive deindustrialisation going on in Britain at the time. As some were being helped by policy, others were being put into poverty due to increasing levels of unemployment and structural economic changes. This showed that maybe social changes were not...

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