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Page last updated at 23:41 GMT, Sunday, 23 October 2005 00:41 UK

What future for Kurt?

Kurt, whose story features in Panorama's "A Future for Kurt?"
What Future For Kurt? was broadcast on BBC One on October 23 2005.

Panorama investigates whether the government can fulfil its goal of ending "postcode poverty" within two decades.

Seven-year-old Kurt is bright, friendly and has loving parents. But they fear he may be doomed to failure because of where he lives. Now the government has made kids like Kurt a promise: that nobody should be disadvantaged by where they are bought up.

Kurt lives in an estate in Rowner, Hampshire, which is one of the fifth most deprived areas in the country. Next door is Alverstoke - one of the fifth least deprived. People on Kurt's estate can expect to earn less, be less healthy, get poorer grades, experience more crime, and die younger than in the neighbouring village of Alverstoke. To Kurt's parents it seems a better life is just a postcode away - and they are determined to make it.

"Its only across the road... half a mile, not even that, but it's like heaven and hell... Their nightmare is Rowner and our heaven is Alverstoke," says Mark. "They don't want what we've got, but we want what they've got."

Panorama follows Kurt's family as they try to work their way out of Rowner. They are scared that if they do not succeed Kurt will be sucked down into a whirlpool of low-level crime, drug-taking and unemployment. But first they have to work their way out of the crippling spiral of debt that threatens to imprison them there.

Holding down a job, and providing a better life for Kurt is not so easy. Rowner can lead parents astray as well as children.

"My dad used to do drugs but he's quitted," says Kurt proudly.

Even critics of the government concede it has had some success in reducing child poverty, and tax credits have helped many of the working poor. But inequality hasn't fallen and social mobility in Britain is still worse than in some Western countries. Can the government really free children like Kurt from the threat of postcode poverty?

Production team:
Reporter: Steve Bradshaw
Producer: Callum Macrae
Deputy Editors: Andrew Bell, Frank Simmonds
Editor: Mike Robinson

A Films of Record production for the BBC


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