Professor Philip Brown and Dr Lisa Scullion from Salford Housing and Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU) have developed a community-based research method to capture the viewpoints of, and more valid and reliable data about, migrant and nomadic groups, who experience barriers to social inclusion:
- Supporting local authorities in fulfilling their statutory duties regarding the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers;
- Addressing a broad range of social needs affecting various migrant communities, particularly those from Eastern Europe and the problems facing Roma communities in six European countries;
- Reducing exclusion, improving cohesion and improving life chances.
SHUSU is a leading multi-disciplinary applied social science research and consultancy unit in the fields of diversity and inclusion, sustainable consumption and fuel poverty, and community resources. The unit focuses on research which:
- Shines a light on the lives of those most vulnerable in our society;
- Helps to understand and navigate through complex social issues within the built and human environment; and
- Informs evidence-based policy making.
Understanding diverse accommodation needs
Phil and Lisa have been commissioned by local authorities to produce circa one third of all Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessments (GTAAs) across England from 2006-2009 and GTAAs for around 20 local authorities from 2012-present. These studies offer estimations of the shortfall in culturally appropriate accommodation units for Gypsies and Travellers in particular localities. Following GTAAs, many local authorities have developed specific targets, embedded with local planning strategies (Local Plans), for the provision of accommodation for members of these communities.
- Phil was commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to assess the progress local authorities had made in meeting these identified needs. The findings were used to inform the report on progress on Gypsy and Traveller accommodation provision produced by central government. Following on from this particular study Phil was commissioned by the EHRC to produce a similar study in Scotland and an annual update study covering both England and Wales.
- Calling on Phil's update to the EHRC on local authority progress, the Commons Select Committee – the Communities and Local Government Committee recommended a simplified and centralised national approach to the provision of Gypsy and Traveller accommodation: “There is strong evidence that a localism and decentralisation agenda is limited in its capacity to identify and provide accommodation for the Gypsy and Traveller communities. A simplified and centralised national approach to the provision of Gypsy and Traveller accommodation is essential to overcoming the discrimination Gypsies and Travellers face. The pursuit of a decentralisation and localism agenda - in relation to Gypsy and Traveller accommodation provision - will more than likely lead to an increase in local authorities' expenditure on evictions of Gypsy and Traveller communities. Strong evidence from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and local authorities has shown that once proper Gypsy and Traveller sites are provided, conflict and tension between local settled communities and Gypsies and Travellers is significantly reduced, leading to greater community cohesion.” June 2011
- As a result, the Homes and Communities Agency’s central coordination of site provision through the delivery of the Gypsy and Traveller Sites Grant Programme has seen £16.3m invested in 26 schemes across the country providing 88 new or additional pitches and 179 improved pitches (to 2013): “Authorised travellers’ sites can provide the basis for local authorities to tackle the inequalities experienced by travellers. Increased authorised provision will reduce the number of unauthorised sites and the tensions they can create between travellers and the settled community and reduce the need for costly enforcement action.” HCA website.
- Building on their work with UK Gypsies and Travellers (who are seen as ‘Roma’ within a definition from the Council of Europe) Phil and Lisa were invited to be partners on the Roma SOURCE project, which ran between 2011 and 2013. Roma SOURCE explored the social exclusion and community relations of Roma and non Roma in six EU Member States. Based on an evaluation of the Roma SOURCE project there is tangible progression in inclusion of Roma in a number of local areas, greater understanding and demonstrable policy change. Work on Roma inclusion is continuing through Roma MATRIX (running from 2013-2015), a new project with 19 partners in 10 European Member States.
- Phil and Lisa are also leading pioneering work funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust which aims to enumerate the migrant Roma population in the UK. This work has been cited in policy documents from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) as follows “UK efforts to combat the marginalisation of the Roma communities have both a domestic and an international dimension. We seek to share our experience of integration and at the same time to reduce the push factors that force communities which are discriminated against to come to the UK. The Department for Communities and Local Government, which is a member of the network, reports to the European Commission on its activities and on the situation of the Roma community in the UK more widely. The University of Salford is due to issue a report in 2013 which will provide the most accurate picture to date on the number and distribution of the Roma in the UK”.
Migrant Roma in the UK: Population size and experience of local authorities (2013)