In the EU, nearly 120 million people are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Cities despite being centres of employment and opportunity are often focal points for social issues. Therefore, social inequality can especially be seen in urban areas. Poverty has many faces including those at-risk-of-poverty (income poverty), the severely deprived and those living households with very low work intensity. The target groups are also wide and varied when we look at: child poverty, homelessness, the elderly, vulnerability of Roma people, etc.
Combating urban poverty is an important issue at EU level and is one of the Europe 2020 targets. It is one of the topics of the Urban Agenda for the EU and a partnership on the subject was one of the first to be piloted in 2016. As such it has been able to develop its Action Plan for this important policy field due to be completed in September 2017. Two of the urban authorities funded in the first UIA Call for Proposals are members of the partnership (Birmingham and Lille) and have contributed to its development. The topic is also high in the EU agenda as in November 2017, the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth will take place in Gothenburg.
Cities as centres of economic activity and employment opportunities offer a wide spectrum of chances to people. It is where the majority of the EU population live. However as cities spread pockets of inner city decay remain or develop around surrounding areas. It is in these neighbourhoods that the cycle of deprivation and social exclusion occurs that can be passed from generation to generation if isn’t addressed. These neighbourhoods suffer from social and spatial segregation, stigmatisation and barriers to accessing services. In cities, poverty has a number of contributing factors such as unemployment or precarious jobs, low income/pensions as well as inadequate social benefits. Low educational attainment, health inequalities, high housing cost/poor housing quality, barriers to access quality services, childcare and education.
Solutions have been people based and place based but the situation of risk of poverty and exclusion persists therefore necessitating innovative solutions that go beyond the tradition inclusion policies.
In the UIA first Call for Proposals six urban authorities were selected to work on urban poverty with a focus on deprived neighbourhoods. Even if urban poverty is a traditional field of competence for urban authorities, this is where some truly revolutionary approaches have been found and in some cases building upon previous policies. This is the case of Barcelona that will test and evaluate seven different schemes of Basic Minimum Income with different groups in one of the most deprived neighbourhoods but also of Turin that will give a concrete dimension to its municipal regulation of common goods by signing Pact of Co-responsibility with citizens to run public spaces and deliver co-designed services. The link between the projects of Lille and Nantes is the attempt to use the traditional area-based approaches for urban renewal to introduce innovative urban functions in deprived neighbourhoods (integrated homeless centre in Nantes and cluster for food production and consumption in Lille) while Birmingham will test an ethnographic approach to map the local assets and try to connect them with major public (new hospital) and private (real estate development) investments already planned in a deprived area of the city. In Pozzuoli, the regeneration of a deprived neighbourhood will be developed with the innovative techniques of permaculture in order to spearhead an economic process and urban growth as a means to combat poverty.
You can find out further about what the projects are implementing by visiting their individual webpages here. In our series of interviews find out first-hand how the UIA projects are impacting the local context they are applying their solution in here.
In the third Call for Proposals that will open in autumn/winter 2017 urban authorities will also be able to apply for funding on urban poverty indirectly through the topics of housing and jobs and skills in the local economy.
Further info, visit Eurostat.