Efforts to tackle poverty are being held back by a neglect of ‘place poverty’ in welfare policies, planners argue.
The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has published a new report warning many national and local policies are failing to reduce deprivation because they are ignore how well planned local environments with good services and transport can help lift people out of poverty.
According to an RTPI survey, 40% of local authority plans across the UK do not make any specific reference to poverty, social exclusion or inequality. The planning institute also reports this oversight is reflected in many devolution deals.
The RTPI report, Place, Poverty and Inequality, Why place-based approaches are key to tackling poverty and inequality, argues that national welfare policies place too much emphasis on the individual factors behind poverty—poor education, for example—and not enough on physical environment.
Trudi Elliott, RTPI chief executive, said: ‘Many of the root causes of deprivation and social inequality are bound up in the poor quality of neighbourhoods - places that have no employment and lack community amenities, are poorly connected or simply run down.
‘Good planning is the one tool in our hands that can make places increase people's opportunities and help lift them from poverty.’
Ms Elliot added devolution is a good opportunity for local authorities to adopt ‘a more holistic approach to planning’.
RTPI recommends the use of ways to measure the quality of places, such as the Place Standard Tool adopted in Scotland, and highlights the MAPS tool developed by the University of York and Loughborough, which identifies what ‘good places’ should have.
It also calls on Local Enterprise Partnerships in England to play a stronger role in co-ordinating transport and access to employment, directing jobs and capital to poorer areas, and invest in training schemes.