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The cross-party think tank Demos are working on a project commissioned by 4Children to look at Britain’s towns.
The project is researching the experience and impact of growing up and raising families in towns on the edge of big cities.
The Stage 1 report, Talk of the Town, measures towns and cities against a wide variety of critical social and economic measures – including health, education and employment – and finds that three in five English towns are falling behind their neighbouring cities.
The report was undertaken to map the fortunes of the satellite towns orbiting 21 of England’s largest cities, and to better understand their distinct characteristics.
While compared to their neighbouring cities, towns tend to under-perform socio-economically, in absolute terms, they were found to have either very high or low socio-economic profiles, with cities falling in the middle range.
4Children’s Chief Executive, Imelda Redmond CBE, said:
As this report makes clear, England’s towns are being left behind. Despite the welcome devolution agenda from governments over the past few decades which has seen cities outside London benefit from increased funding, towns have been overlooked. This research also underlines just how strong the North / South divide is and how far we have got to go to close the gap. 4Children will be looking further into the impact on children, young people and their families growing up in the towns which have fared worse.”
The second phase of this project will begin in 2016 and will focus down on a smaller number of towns – working with local partners - to really understand the detailed experience in those areas and what factors contribute to the potentially differing outcomes to neighbouring cities.