Womens Work Permanent Unemployment Organising for Change In and Out of WorkGrowth & Decline


From 1970-1978 the British government funded 12 Community Development Projects (CDP) in some of the most impoverished neighbourhoods in England, Scotland and Wales. The CDPs were given resources to hire researchers and community workers  to work alongside community residents toward the goal of ameliorating deleterious local conditions. The projects began in a spirit of great optimism and although they were expected to be short-lived, by 1978, all twelve projects had been shut down, some amidst a great deal of acrimony. In a few cases a successor project, scaled back and with a more modest brief, continued. The programme as a national anti-poverty initiative, however, ended.
In the tumultuous political climate of 1970s Britain, many of the CDP teams ended up developing radical critiques of the government’s policies on poverty, including criticisms of the CDP, itself. In addition, in working with residents of communities to secure vital resources, the CDP workers created additional controversy by engaging in direct confrontations with their local councils.
Each of the 12 projects included both an action team (appointed by the local authority) and a research team (appointed by a local polytechnic or university). The extent to which these functions overlapped one another varied from project to project depending on the local personnel. In any case, over the course of the CDP’s lifespan, the local teams with support from the CDP Information and Intelligence Unit (IIU) produced reports that analysed the causes and consequences of poverty. These reports document the process of de-industrialization and the changing policy initiatives that once constituted Britain’s comprehensive welfare state.
There were three categories of reports:
I. National Inter-Project Reports: These were largely issued by the CDP Information and Intelligence Unit (IIU) based in London and produced in the name of all or most of the local projects. The Unit was actually closed down some time before the last project closed (Benwell, 1978) and Benwell CDP and its successor project, the West End Resource Centre, took on responsibility for producing and then selling and reprinting these from 1976 onwards.
II. Local Project Reports: Each local project produced a number of formal, published reports: in some cases, this comprised a few mimeographed reports during the life of the project and one large consolidated final report at the close of the project. In other cases, this comprised a collection of complementary, well-produced and illustrated reports, each focussing on key aspects of the local social and political economy.
III. Community Development Project Political Economy Collective: After the IIU closed and most projects had also been closed, some of them in a hurry by discontented local authorities, the CDPPEC – a collective of ex-workers – continued to publish a series of reports in the same format as the national CDP reports. Some of these had been in the pipeline when projects closed, others took up the themes addressed earlier or themes on which the IIU had not been able to publish. These reports were produced up to 1981.
Clearly, there has been something of a revival of interest in the CDP experience in recent years and many of the issues raised by the CDP have not only had continuing salience but are likely to come to the foreground again during the current period of ‘austerity’ and economic restructuring.
The 12 Local Community Development Projects
The first four projects were establishing in the following communities and were launched in 1970:
Glamorgan (Upper Afan, Wales)
Southwark (South London)
The next four projects were established in 1971-72:
Benwell (Newcastle)
Newham (East London)
Batley (West Yorkshire)
Cleator Moor (Cumbria)
Shortly thereafter, the final four projects were initiated:
Paisley (Scotland)
North Shields (North Tyneside)
Oldham (Lancashire)
By 1978, all of the projects had been phased out.
Many of the reports shared here have been digitised at the Center for Digital Scholarship at Indiana University by Susan Hyatt in the online collection ‘The War on Poverty in Britain: Documents from the Community Development Projects’ which can be found here.
Hard copies of most of the original CDP reports are still available. Contact: stjamesbenwell@gmail.com
Below we share several key National Reports and Local Project Reports produced by CDP Newcastle based in Benwell and CDP North Tyneside based in North Shields.
Name Size Hits
Benwell Community Project: Making Of A Ruling Class (1979) No. 6 73.6 MiB 3551
Benwell Community Project: Permanent Unemployment: Is This the Best Future We Can Offer Our School Leavers? (1978) No. 2 54.8 MiB 1251
Benwell Community Project: Private Housing and the Working Class (1978) No. 3 63.5 MiB 2604
National CDP IIU: Profits Against Houses: An Alternative Guide to Housing Finance (1976) 6.6 MiB 1396
National CDP IIU: The State And The Local Economy (1979) 49.5 MiB 986
National CDP IIU: Whatever Happened To Council Housing? (1976) 61.6 MiB 1216
National CDP Inter-Project Editorial Team: Gilding The Ghetto (1979) 36.3 MiB 1830
National CDP Inter-Project Editorial Team: Limits Of The Law (1977) 37.3 MiB 700
National CDP PEC: The State And The Local Economy (1979) 49.5 MiB 405
National CDP: Cost Of Industrial Change (1981) 66.6 MiB 2892
North Shields: In And Out Of Work - A study of unemployment, low pay and income maintenance services (1978) Vol. 6 122.3 MiB 602
North Shields: Living With Industrial Change (1978) Vol 2 90.1 MiB 1230
North Shields: Organising For Change in a Working Class Area (1978) Vol 3 55.1 MiB 503
North Shields: Women's Work (1978) Vol 5 13.7 MiB 549
North Shields: Working Class Politics and Housing 1900-1977 (1978) Vol 1 8.6 MiB 1573

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