Luton focus of ‘Changing Britain’, Channel 4 News

Luton was the focus of the Channel 4 News piece ‘Changing Britain‘ aired on Tuesday 23rd March.

On the streets of Luton and in the context of it’s pronounced industrial and migrant history, Jon Snow’s report examined crime, unemployment and the benefit’s trap, and inviting local perspectives on the upcoming elections.

The Snowblog ‘Hats off for Luton’, published prior to the broadcast, recognises Luton as “merely the tip of a very British reality, a snapshot of a country with vast social challenges extending far beyond what we mainly talk about – fixing the deficit.”

Glenn Jenkins (who extends the discussion in A view from the Marsh Farm estate) and other Marsh Farm Outreach members also feature in the programme. Spectacle have been working with the group for over 15 years, most recently on our Poverty and Participation in the Media project for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, but also during the early community activism and outreach principles of the Exodus Collective (now Leviticus and MFO), about whom Spectacle produced two films Exodus Movement of Jah People and Exodus from Babylon.

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England, N. Ireland, Scotland, Wales – Devolution and Disadvantage

Planning Map
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
have released a series of reports to mark 10 years of devolution. The reports look at the impact of devolved policies and recognise a need for the Westminster to continue to reserve certain powers in order to improve conditions across the board but picks up on a failure to communicate feedback and learning between central and devolved government policies.

While concluding that much of the improvement in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales stems from UK policy, the reports acknowledge promising results from devolved policies, especially in the areas of social housing and elderly care. Athough their impact so far has been limited in size these results should improve as the administrations stabilise and imbed.

A less positive equalising factor was raised by report author Jim McCormick, who warns –

“The scale of the projected cuts in public spending will cause some of the gains seen in the last 10 years to unravel.”

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Minimum cost of living rising twice the rate of inflation

In 2008 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published its first  ‘minimum standard for Britain’ surveying members of the public to find out what income they thought was needed to achieve a socially acceptable standard of living. This survey has now been updated taking into account the rising rate of unemployment and the economic crisis with some fascinating results.

  • A single adult with no children now needs to earn at least £13,900 a year before tax to reach the minimum standard. This is a £500 rise from 2008; nearly half of this extra income is needed for the rising cost of food.
  • About one in four people are living below the minimum income standard for Britain, and this is increasing as unemployment rises.
  • The minimum cost of living has risen by 5%, contrasting with official inflation figures of 2½% (CPI) and -1% (RPI). A low-paid worker whose earnings were linked to the retail prices index could be 6% worse off this year, relative to the minimum cost of living.
  • Job loss can leave you with less than half the income that you actually need to live according to the minimum income standard for Britain.

To download a full copy of this report please visit our Poverty and the Media Resources and Download Page

To watch clips of Spectacle’s Poverty and Media project please visit our Project Page

Alternatively you can also find footage of this project in our Archive

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