Work and Pay

Edmonton's Socio Economic Profile: Meeting the Challenge

  • Published 10th May 2012
  • Authors: Lea Sitkin, , Tom MacInnes, , Peter Kenway,
  • Category: Work and Pay

Edmonton is an area in the London Borough of Enfield with some of the most deprived wards in London. The Borough commissioned us to look at the population and demography of the area, and the barriers to finding work that local people face. Through a mixture of statistical research and interviews with service providers and voluntary groups in Edmonton, we looked at ways in which the council itself could help people and businesses ensure that regeneration projects helped the local population.

Our key findings are as follows:

Edmonton compared to the rest of Enfield

  • Since 2001, Enfield has seen a bigger rise in the proportion of its population claiming out of work benefits than any other London borough. In 2011, measured by the proportion of people claiming out of work benefits, Edmonton Green was the fourth most deprived ward in London.
  • Compared to a decade earlier, all Edmonton wards have seen an increase in the proportion of working-age adults claiming out of work benefits. But even a decade ago, most were in deprived areas. The biggest changes in Enfield over the last decade have not been in Edmonton, but to the north of it: Enfield Highway, Enfield Lock and Turkey Street. These previously “quite poor” areas are now as deprived as much of Edmonton.
  • By contrast, the western half of the borough still has a far lower proportion of people claiming benefits, with the rate in Enfield Southgate well below  the London average.

At risk groups

  • Young adult unemployment in Edmonton is high, as it is across both the borough and London. A high proportion of Enfield’s NEET population are in Edmonton.
  • There is a high demand for apprenticeship places among Edmonton’s young adults, but supply of placements falls short of demand, although employers may be more willing to offer short work experience placements.
  • While basic skills and qualifications are an issue among Edmonton’s workless young adults, softer skills are often cited by employers as essential for the jobs they offer.
  • The level of worklessness among women in Edmonton is particularly high. Yet many of the available jobs, and those anticipated to be created in the coming years, are in traditional “male” areas, such as driving and construction.
  • Non-white ethnic groups in Enfield have a high risk of worklessness, but this varies between groups. Recent arrivals from Eastern Europe are more likely to be in work than the Turkish, Somali or Kurdish populations in the area.
  • There is cultural resistance to paid work among some groups. One cause of this for several migrant groups is a distrust of the notion of formalised childcare where nonfamily members are entrusted with looking after children.
  • One thing that all workless groups have in common is a low level of recognised formal qualifications. The jobs predicted to come into the area over the next decade will require a higher basic level of skills and qualifications as standard. Very few jobs will not require at least an NVQ2.

Council responses

  • Our interviewees suggested a range of possible areas in which the council could play a role. Our analysis suggests that these responses could be grouped into three types: risk reduction; co-ordination and information; and funding and resources.
  • Firstly, there is the reduction of risk both for people looking for work and for employers. For instance, by working with employers to guarantee job interviews at the end of training courses, the risk of investing in one’s own training is lessened. Similarly, by working with employer groups in the area to agree a standardised approach to, say, offering apprenticeships, the risk of a company losing a member of staff whose training they have invested in is lessened.
  • The second area is in co-ordination of information locally. For example, the council might play a role in ensuring that every job seeker understands how much better off they would be in work. With funding for job brokerage drying up, there is a role for the council in co-ordinating training providers and employers, to ensure that local people can fill local vacancies.
  • Finally there is inevitably an issue around funding of services, particularly where demand outstrips supply. The most obvious example is ESOL, where the need for training in Edmonton is far greater than the rest of the borough. There are providers in the area, but the council might invest in more capacity or ways of embedding ESOL into other areas, such as basic skills and vocational training.

This last point touches on something more general. Edmonton is still the poorest part of the borough, but it is not the part that has deteriorated most sharply compared with a decade ago. While there are several possible explanations for this, one may be that  Edmonton – its people and its support services – have been able to protect themselves fairly well during hard times. Cuts, notably to ESOL funding for those, principally women, who (for cultural reasons) are not looking for paid work, threaten this. Helping to sustain home-grown resilience may be as important over the next few years as finding ways to help Edmonton move forward once more.

About this report
This report was commissioned by the London Borough of Enfield and written by Lea Sitkin, Tom MacInnes and Peter Kenway.