Poverty Reduction in European Cities – Local Governments' Strategies and Programmes to reduce Poverty

Room 210 - JG Smith Building
Thursday 31 January 2019 (13:00-14:00)

Helen Harris: h.m.a.harris@bham.ac.uk

CHASM and HCRG Seminar

Speaker: Prof. Dorothea Greiling (Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria)

Poverty and the risk of poverty have become permanent challenges in the European Union (EU) after the financial and sovereign debt crisis.

In six EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom) EU-SILC data (2015) showed higher poverty rates in cities than in rural areas. This served as motivation for an Austrian research grant-funded project to focus on the under-researched local government level with the aim to identify municipal best-practice cases and to derive policy implications for Austria. Designing effective poverty reduction strategies is a complex challenge which calls for an integrated multi-actor in approach. Cities face substantial demographic, cultural, economic and social challenges as well as changing welfare state regimes.

Against this background, the research questions are:

1.     How do local governments define poverty and how is municipal success in poverty reduction measured?

2.     Who are the main risk groups and what are the most pressing problems when fighting urban poverty?

3.     What is regarded as successful anti-poverty initiatives?

4.     What is the underlying welfare state concept?

5.     What are the characteristics of economically sustainable municipal strategies and measures?

Since the project started in March 2018, around 80 interviews were conducted so far, primarily in Austria and Germany. First results show that local governments mainly use the number of social welfare recipients for measuring poverty. With regard to the causes of poverty, the interviewees focused on the micro level. Single-parent families, un-skilled persons, long-term unemployed persons, migrants (first and second generation), refugees and families with at least 3 children were frequently mentioned. So far the successful anti-poverty initiatives were targeted on children, unemployed young people, homeless people and social housing. The results from Austria indicate a change towards the social investment state, which primarily focuses on children and labour market integration. The first insights from the other countries indicate that affordable housing and labour market integration are cross-cutting issues. Inherited poverty and old-age poverty is more pressing outside Austria.

All welcome  - please email Helen Harris h.m.a.harris@bham.ac.uk to confirm your attendance.