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Uncovering Surrey’s economic divide

Dr Jo Blanden, Deputy Head of the School of Economics, recently spoke at the launch of a new report into inequalities and social disadvantage throughout Surrey.

Surrey Uncovered, an investigation into the reality of living in Surrey for those that are struggling and need help, was published by Siân Sangarde-Brown for the Community Foundation for Surrey (CFS) organisation. The report was launched at an event at the Rik Medlik Building on 12 September, with Dr Blanden providing an academic perspective on the findings.

The report found that, in a number of areas across Surrey, more than 30% of children and young people live in poverty, with some areas being significantly worse than the national average. Among other findings, the report also reveals that 1 in 4 under-15 year-olds in Surrey is either overweight or obese, with the county having a significantly worse record for the number of hours that 5-18 year-olds take part in sport compared to the national average.

Dr Blanden, whose research interests are in the fields of labour and family economics, commented that: “Social science research has consistently found that those from poorer families have worse life-chances than their more affluent peers. They don’t do as well at school, are more likely to experience social problems and also to experience poverty themselves.

“A striking point raised by the report is that the gaps between richer and poorer children start young, and are visible by age three. The Government is now funding free part-time early education and care for all three- and four-year-olds, as well as the most disadvantaged 40% of two-year-olds. My current research project with another member of the School of Economics, Sandra McNally, looks at the impact of this policy.”

The University of Surrey and the CFS have entered a strategic partnership in order to promote and encourage philanthropy within the county. The CFS is dedicated to inspiring more people in the county to support their local communities. The organisation has awarded £3.5 million in grants to support over 1,300 local community projects since it was established eight years ago. Dr Blanden’s participation in the launch highlights the role higher education and research must play in overcoming these social obstacles.

More information on Surrey Uncovered, including a copy of the full report, can be found on the Community Foundation for Surrey website.

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