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25 Years on 20 Council Estates: major turnaround for unpopular estates but policy challenges remain

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25 years ago they were unpopular council estates, suffering from poor management, dilapidated environments, bad reputations and high proportions of empty homes. Today, after spending on homes and environments, more intensive neighbourhood management and long-standing community involvement, most of them appear to be turning the tide. This is according to a major report covering 25 years on 20 estates in London, the Midlands, the North East and North West, by LSE for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Twenty-five Years on Twenty Estates: turning the tide? is the largest research project of its kind, tracking progress on the estates since 1980. It examines the key changes and what lies behind them, from national policy to community activity. It also captures the impact of the recent strong economy and housing market on the estates.

Report author, Rebecca Tunstall| said: 'Most of the estates have turned from a vicious circle of deprivation and stigma to a virtuous circle of improved popularity and easier management.'

Reflecting back over the past decade, staff and residents of over three-quarters of the estates felt improvements had taken place, adding to positive changes in the 1980s and early 1990s. One resident in London said 'This estate is the pride of the local authority,' while a resident in the North West said, 'If I won the lottery I wouldn't move.'

Formerly exceptional and stigmatised, the estates are now much closer to both local and national patterns. Ten years ago, the estates were described in an earlier report as 'swimming against the tide' of social problems. However, in the past decade, unemployment rates on the estates dropped dramatically, from 34 per cent of residents in 1991 to 16 per cent in 2001. GSCE performance at estate-linked schools improved between 1994 and 2004, at a faster rate than national results. Housing management performance in the estates improved, with fewer empty homes, better repairs services and better-kept environments. Resident satisfaction rates on the estates are now close to the average for social housing.

Most estates received several rounds of central Government regeneration funding and council investment over the 25 years, which paid for some dramatic redevelopments, as well as basic refurbishment of homes and estates. Most councils provided intensive housing and neighbourhood management for much of the period, to help maintain conditions. Resident involvement in improvement decisions and community activities were important in all of the estates, and some residents and groups had been active continually for a decade or more.

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Notes:

1. The full report, Twenty-five Years on Twenty Estates: turning the tide? by Rebecca Tunstall and Alice Coulter, is published for the Foundation by The Policy Press (ISBN 1 86134 935 1, price £12.95). A free download of the report is available at www.jrf.org.uk|.

2. The unpopular estates involved were chosen for research in the early 1980s because the councils that owned and managed them were introducing improvement initiatives, based on local housing management with increased resident involvement. They include every major type of council housing from 1920s semi-detached homes to 1970s modernist estates. Overall, they typify less popular council estates, which have been symbols of housing and urban problems and targets of policy for every government over the past 25 years. The estates have been tracked through visits and interviews in 1982, 1988, 1994 and 2005. This latest report comments on their progress over that period, with a focus on the last 10 years.

3. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is one of the largest social policy research and development charities in the UK. It supports a research and development programme that seeks to understand the causes of social difficulties and explore ways of overcoming them.

4. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Ruth Kelly, has commissioned Professor John Hills of LSE to ask what the role and aims of social housing should be in England looking forward to the next century.

Press cuttings

Rebecca Tunstall has been interviewed about this report on BBC TV news; Sky News TV (live at 9.30am); BBC London Tonight TV (live at 6.20pm); BBC London radio Drivetime; PM on Radio 4; Sky News Radio; IRN general; Radio 5 Live's midnight show; BBC Merseyside; BBC Leeds; BBC Shropshire; BBC Essex; BBC Stoke; BBC Cleveland; BBC Foyle; BBC Newcastle; BBC Manchester.  She has also given interviews to print publications including: South London Press; West London Press; Birmingham Mail; Regeneration and Renewal; New Start and Birmingham Mail.

Tottenham Journal
'Success story' of riot estate (6 Dec 06)
A Tottenham council estate notorious in the 1980s has been recognised for 'turning the tide' after decades of investment. The Broadwater Farm Estate was one of 20 used in a national study by the London School of Economics over the last 25 years. Rebecca Tunstall, author of the report, said: 'Most of the estates have turned from a vicious circle of deprivation and stigma to a virtuous circle of improved popularity and easier management.'

Inside Housing
Complacency must not hold back estate progress (24 Nov 06)
Article about the recent LSE research, Twenty five years on twenty estates; turning the tide? by Rebecca Tunstall and Alice Coulter for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 

The Bolton News
On the road to a better standard of living (23 Nov 06)
New research from the London School of Economics, carried out on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says the situation on the Higher Deane estate [Bolton] has improved over the past two decades, with unemployment and the number of empty homes on the decline.

The Guardian
Streets ahead (22 Nov 06)
Article about the recent LSE research, Twenty five years on twenty estates; turning the tide? by Rebecca Tunstall and Alice Coulter for  the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 

Sky News

Politics.co.uk 

Daily Express

4NI

24dash.com

Adfero
Council housing much improved (21 Nov 06)

Regional Film and Video - 4rfv.co.uk

Guardian Unlimited
Deprived estates have 'turned the tide' (21 Nov 06) 

BBC News
Many council estates 'improving' (21 Nov 06)

Sky News
Estates 'turning the tide' (21 Nov 06)
Some of the UK's most notorious council estates are 'turning the tide' of deprivation, claims a new report by researchers at LSE, for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The report's author, Rebecca Tunstall, said: 'Most of the estates have turned from a vicious circle of deprivation and stigma to a virtuous circle of improved popularity and easier management.'

Also in Living IT and New Zealand News

Reuters
Run-down council estates can be lifted (21 Nov 06)
Academics at the London School of Economics found that on 16 estates in London, the Midlands and the North there had been gains in better estate management.

The Guardian
Deprived estates 'have turned tide' (21 Nov 06)
A series of 1980s council estates have 'turned the tide' of deprivation, reducing unemployment rates and improving environmental and education standards, a report has found. But there are still 'significant gaps' between the 20 formerly stigmatised estates and national norms, researchers from the London School of Economics have warned. 

BBC News Online
Many council estates 'improving' (21 Nov 06)
Rebecca Tunstall, the report's author, said: 'Most of the estates have turned from a vicious circle of deprivation and stigma to a virtuous circle of improved popularity and easier management.' But she added: 'A quarter of a century of progress must not be threatened by complacency or a shift of attention from these estates and others like them.'

Press Association Newsfile
Council estates 'show signs of improvement' (21 Nov 06)

Ananova
Deprived estates 'have turned tide' (21 Nov 06)

Daily Mail
Deprived estates 'have turned tide' (21 Nov 06)

The London Paper
Deprived estates 'have turned tide' (21 Nov 06)

Birmingham Post
Run-down estates winning war on deprivation (21 Nov 06)
IC series of websites across the country

Metro
Council estates 'turning the tide' (20 Nov 06)

21 November 2006

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