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Programme transcript

The following is a transcript of Panorama's "What Future For Kurt?", first broadcast on 23 October 2005 on BBC One at 22:15BST



STEVE BRADSHAW: What are you going to do when you leave school then?

KURT: I might join the police, but definitely not the army.

BRADSHAW: No, why not the army?

KURT: Because that may be the last time you see me.

BRADSHAW: Oh, so you don't want to get killed in the line of duty.

KURT: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no...

BRADSHAW: You'd like Kurt. He's seven and already thinking about what the future may hold in store for him. Today Kurt's strolling through the prosperous Hampshire village of Alverstoke. Seven year-olds who live here can expect to get good school grades. They can expect to go onto university. They can expect to live long, healthy and peaceful lives, but there's a hitch: Kurt doesn't live in Alverstoke. He lives next door in a housing estate in Rowner. Kids on estates like his can expect to get poor grades, earn less, be less healthy, experience more crime and die younger than their neighbours in wealthy areas like Alverstoke.

KURT: We're very poor, but we still have enough money to make it through the world.

BRADSHAW: This is the story of a family trying to make sure their son's life isn't ruined because they live in the wrong postcode.

MARK: This is where all the people who can't afford to live somewhere nice end up. It's just like... there's, like, one of these in every county across the whole of England, isn't it?


BRADSHAW: In the future, the government says everyone in Britain should have a decent chance in life, no matter where they live, but is that enough to ensure a bright future for Kurt? We spent the summer with Kurt and his family. Our story shows how, despite the government's best intentions, one child's future is being affected by his postcode. Rachel, Kurt's mum has come home from work, exhausted. She's a carer, working long hours as a nursing assistant in an NHS psychiatric home.

How long was the shift?

RACHAEL TARGETT, Kurt's mother

14 hours.

BRADSHAW: 14 hour shift?


BRADSHAW: Mark, Kurt's dad, works hard too. He barely has time to see Rachel before leaving for his job. He puts in long hours doing nightshifts in an industrial bakery. They're just the kind of hardworking family the government says it wants to help. Pulling yourself out of poverty isn't straightforward, even for a family like Kurt's where everyone is working. For a start, Mark hates his job. He's already walked out once.

MARK INCE, Kurt's father

They want me to make cookies. That's my calling in life now, is to make cookies, to earn money to pay my bills. So I get a tray, I get these little frozen pucks, which is unbaked cookie dough, take them out of the box, and put them on the tray. That's pretty much it: cookies all night, every night, until we're out of debt, I suppose.

BRADSHAW: Debt is their big problem. Like so many low income families, they were tempted by easy credit, and are now struggling to repay debts of over £25,000.

MARK: Every month we were behind on all our payments, and that just led us into trouble, and more trouble, and then the letters started coming, then the threats started coming, and it's all "bailiff this, bailiff that," and it was just constant, and Kurt saw what that was doing to me. I mean...

BRADSHAW: At seven, Kurt's already learning about life on the estate. Like how to help Mum and Dad when the credit company hassles them for money.

MARK: I was a bit tearful, because we were having a bit of money problems and I'd just, like, had enough of, like, all the phone calls and that, and he come running in, and he's like, "I've got some money!" and he literally plonked onto the bed, like this pile of change that he'd found in his room, and it was literally like, there must have been.. what.. about £5 in 2ps and 1ps and 5ps and that, and it was just, like, you know, the way he did it was...

RACHEL: Bless him.

MARK: Because he was listening and that's... that worries me, knowing that he's listening to money problems and stuff. It's all we must talk about half time.

BRADSHAW: Why did you do that?

KURT: Because I'm nice and I never thought of anything to spend it on. If there's any really 1ps or 2ps that I find, then I'm going to give it to my mum and dad, unless it's in my room.

BRADSHAW: Again, your own fault that you got into debt? I mean...

MARK: Yeah.

BRADSHAW: Suffer the consequences, there you go?

MARK: Yeah.

RACHEL: Doesn't really matter how much we weren't in debt, we'd still have to work... both work hard just to try get off of this place, so even if we weren't in debt, we'd both have to work just as hard full-time, just to move. So, it doesn't matter whether we're in debt, out of debt, anything, does it?

BRADSHAW: Kurt in his family live in Rowner on the Gosport Peninsula in Hampshire. There are posher bits. Kurt's postcode is in PO13-8.

Source: Government Indices of Deprivation

His neighbourhood is one of the fifth most deprived areas in the country. Alverstoke, right next door, is in PO12 2, and it's among the fifth least deprived. Five years ago, the government declared it wanted to end postcode poverty. Its vision: within 10 to 20 years nobody would be seriously disadvantaged by where they live. That would mean by the time Kurt's 12, or at the latest, 22, kids on estates like his will have much the same life chances as they would in Alverstoke.

YVETTE COOPER MP Minister for Housing and Planning

We have seen regional inequalities, unfair gaps between districts throughout our history, but it's not fair, and it's not fair if people's chance of getting a good education depends on where they live, it's not fair if people's chance of poor health depends one where they live, and that's why I think we have to try and turn those inequalities, those disadvantages around for the next generation. Yeah, progress will be difficult in some areas. That doesn't mean you should stop trying to do it.

BRADSHAW: But there's a long way to go.

MARK: I'd define the estate by all this, really - by this block of flats, and by the shanty town behind us. There's a few nice areas up the north, that's, like Barratt homes and that, but...

BRADSHAW: In Rowner?

MARK: In Rowner, yeah, but people generally seem... This, this is the heart of it. This is what people remember Rowner for.

KURT: Well, it's not bad. What is bad is the people never... always throw rubbish on the floor. I mean, down there where that gate is, there's lots of litter. People just throw their litter down there.

BRADSHAW: So, can Kurt have a decent future on the estate he calls home? Or is the estate itself the problem? Every morning, Mark walks Kurt to school. He and Rachel had Kurt when she was just 18 and he was 20, but that's not young around here. What's more unusual, is they've stayed together, unlike many young parents.

MARK: They call this place Single Mum City. It's weird, because like, there's a lot of single mums around here, a lot of young parents. It's a lot of kids looking after kids, and stuff, isn't it? I mean, I notice it taking him into school; there's lots, do you know what I mean? There are... and they're getting younger and younger, like...

BRADSHAW: Mark's right, the figures back him up. In Kurt's neighbourhood, 4 out of every 10 kids are brought up by a lone parent.

Location: Grange Ward, Rowner Children with lone parents: 38%

In Alverstoke, it's about 1 out of every 10.

Location: Alverstoke Ward Children with lone parents: 11%

But even more dramatic is this: the average age in Alverstoke is 47.

Location: Alverstoke Ward Average age: 47

But next door, where Kurt lives, it's nearly half that: just 25.

Location: Grange Ward, Rowner Average age: 25

Although the estate's full of young people, it's not full of jobs, and that's reflected by the numbers of people claiming Social Security. In Rowner's Grange Ward, you're 7 times as likely to be on income support as you would be in Alverstoke.

COOPER: Well, we know that growing up in poverty can have a big impact on the rest of your life, whether it's on your health, whether it's on the education qualifications you get, your chances of becoming a teenage parent, and that's why I think it's so important to widen children's opportunities, to give them a better chance at school, but also, before they get to school, as well, because the impact can affect people for the rest of their lives.

BRADSHAW: The estate where Kurt lives was built for families working on local navy bases, but many of those jobs have gone. So if any of Kurt's family were to lose their jobs, they could be in trouble, because, finding a new job when you're from this estate, isn't easy.

MARK: Rowner is a general... that... that word, Rowner gets mentioned in a job interview and suddenly you've gone from being a possible candidate to a Rowner boy, a Rowner man, one of them, one of them that lives in Rowner. You know the types, you know the ones, you know, that's the sort of... you hear it, it's the eyebrows mate. As soon as that word Rowner, "Oh, you live in Rowner?" and you get the, you know, you know get the classic eyebrows go up, and then they start looking at you like maybe he's a bit dodgy, maybe he's, you know, maybe he's going to, I don't know. They certainly don't like the word Rowner though.

BRADSHAW: If anyone in Rowner can pull themselves out of poverty, it's surely Kurt's family. They're trying hard. To help with their money problems, they're living with Rachel's mother Jane, and right now, unusually, all three are in full-time work. With the help of Gordon Brown's tax credits, they're bringing home over £600 a week between them.

MARK: Well, I'm prepared to work, you're prepared to work.

RACHEL: Yeah, we both work hard. Very hard.

BRADSHAW: But if you live here in Rowner, hard work alone may not be enough to fight your way out of postcode poverty. The problem is that much of the estate has become a whirlpool of poverty, crime, and low aspiration threatening to suck Kurt and his family in.

RACHEL: I think it's hard for any child to live on this estate.

BRADSHAW: Because?

RACHEL: Because there's just so many temptations and constant pressures and everything. I mean, I grew up on this estate, so...

MARK: It's the corruption, isn't there? And even the kids are slightly corrupted by it.

BRADSHAW: How do you stop him getting sucked in to all this stuff that goes on around here?

MARK: Teach him better. Teach him good moral conduct, isn't it?

RACHEL: Yeah, that's the only way you can deal with it, bar moving. You can't... you can't stop him seeing things that they're... they're going to see. You can't keep them in, wrapped in cotton wool, can you?

BRADSHAW: Mark and Rachel are only too aware of the peer pressures Kurt will face as he grows up.

MARK: Dangers for Kurt when he... when he starts socialising is getting into them gangs, getting into, like, the mob mentality, like the Rowner Crew.

BRADSHAW: The Rowner Crew harass the estate for years. Four years ago Mark captured some of them in action on video.

MARK: This is just some of the footage I've got of the Rowner Crew. Not all of them, but just a couple of them.

BRADSHAW: They were breaking into residents' storage sheds in the precinct. This is Junior, then 10 years old. We showed the footage to Junior, now 14, and his dad, Scott. (Laughter) To them, anti-social behaviour, lack of what the government calls 'respect' seems bred into the estate.


Each generation, there's a Rowner Crew, you know, as they... as they move on, grow up, move out of the estate, or whatever, they kind of break up, and then you'll find it's their brothers, or the younger lot they'll come through and they're the next Rowner Crew, then it's... and it's a continuing thing, you know.

JUNIOR: If the person didn't know me, then it weren't really fair to... for them to accuse me of being different to what I am.

SCOTT: But at the time, you was a little shit.

JUNIOR: Yeah, I know.

SCOTT: So, when people accused you of it, they we're far wrong.

JUNIOR: Yeah, I know.

KURT: What did he do with his finger?

MARK: Nothing Kurt.

KURT: Did he put it up?

MARK: He just pointed to the sky.

KURT: Oh, so he didn't swear...

MARK: Yeah, he swore and you know he did. Don't even show people.

SCOTT: [watching video] That's me there, out there. (Laughter)

BRADSHAW: Scott Gray was in the Rowner Crew too. That's him with the pole. When he was a child, the Rowner was in its heyday. He remembers how the estates seemed to him at the time.


It's like one big, destructive, wasn't it? (Laughter) Windows smashing, bottles breaking, sheds getting broken into. (Laughter) Basically, everyone who I look up to and that, or not look up to, but see as an older person and... were either junkies or criminals.

BRADSHAW: Scott is law-abiding now, but the consequences of his past offending are still with him.

SCOTT: You apply for a job and they ask you if you've been convicted of a criminal offence. I mean I've been convicted of 30, so if I write that on there, they're not going to employ me, is it? So even though you have grown up, it does hold you back, having a criminal record, and that.

BRADSHAW: It's not just kids of the estate who end up with low aspirations, it's their parents too. Like Scott's mum.

KIM GRAY Scott's mother

You don't think about what you would like them to do. You think about what you would like them not to do. You know, I'd be quite happy just knowing they didn't... they didn't start taking heroin. That would make me happy.

BRADSHAW: It's not much of an ambition.

KIM: No, but it's all I've got. I can't imagine a mother in Alverstoke struggling continuously for years. All they have to worry about is how many O Levels their children will get. It's a lot more worrying to be a mother on Rowner, than it ever could be in Alverstoke.

BRADSHAW: Back in Rowner though, a new generation of kids are causing trouble.

What happened there?

FIREMAN: Someone just came along and set alight to a petrol can, that luckily... well, there's the lid down there. So there was no pressure build up. It just looked very pretty.

BRADSHAW: That kind of thing happens quite a lot?

FIREMAN: No, not really, not really, although, more round here than anywhere else.

BRADSHAW: This is a known hotspot for it though?

FIREMAN: Rowner generally is a... is a known hotspot, yeah, definitely.

BRADSHAW: Hampshire is one of the most law-abiding counties in Britain, but Kurt's neighbourhood in Rowner has long been seen as a hotspot for crime, and much of that crime is related to drugs. Like so many others on the estate, Junior's dad, Scott, became a heroin addict, and ended up in jail for dealing. His son's behaviour deteriorated while he was inside, and he takes the blame, himself.

SCOTT: I got given 3 years, 9 months for selling heroin, you know. I kind of got sucked in, like the rest of the people on the estate at the time. Every estate that's like this all around the country. You know, they got the single parent families, and they got this, that and the other; put onto the estate all these people thrown together with no money, and no hope of getting a job, you know, until they break the cycle and get out of it.

BRADSHAW: One good thing which came out of prison, is that Scott beat his addiction. He's been clean ever since. Kurt's father Mark, too, got drawn into using drugs. He stopped as well, but it wasn't prison that changed his life.

MARK: Yeah, I think I was... I don't know, I think I was on and off the drugs for about at least 4 years, at one point. Sort of, all sorts.

BRADSHAW: Like what?

MARK: Like whiz, amphetamine, pills, I've done coke and heroin and lots of weed. Lots... too much weed. Biggest thing that changed for me was Kurt, was when he was born, because, like, up until then I was responsible just for myself really, and basically I had no responsibilities over myself really. I had no self-control whatsoever, and then like, suddenly in my hands was this, like, tiny little baby and he was totally, you know, I realised. Right early on I knew that he was completely 100% dependent upon me and Rachel, and it freaked me out a little bit. I've hated myself for what I'd become over the years. I'd become this monster, and there I was, like this monster, like, leering over some tiny, innocent, little baby, and it... I don't know, it kind of made me realise a lot about myself, you know.

BRADSHAW: Mark, Rachel and Kurt have been very open about drugs with each other. Although, Kurt doesn't realise how much his dad has already told us.

In Rowner you hear people talking about drugs and you?

KURT: Well my dad... no, I'm not going to say that. I should have not started that sentence.

RACHEL: What's that?

KURT: (Whispers to mum)

RACHEL: OK. He was saying... he said that before he was born, that Mark used to take drugs, that's what he said.

KURT: He used to do drugs, but now he quitted, quitted a long, long, long, long, long... if you know when I was born, that's... he quit before then.

BRADSHAW: Do you think that was because you were coming?

KURT: Yeah, he didn't want me to see. It's not right, because he could hide drugs and I could find them, he could hide them out on the roof but I might find them.

RACHEL: It's dangerous to have kids and drugs, they don't mix, do they?


RACHEL: That's what you're trying to say.

KURT: I mean, adults and drugs they can mix, but kids...

RACHEL: No, they don't mix. They don't mix, at all. No, they don't.

MARK: They don't.

RACHEL: They don't mix at all. Drugs just, just isn't good.

BRADSHAW: Kurt, are you proud of your dad?

KURT: Yeah, for giving up.

MARK: Cheers mate.

BRADSHAW: Kurt's faith in him means a lot to Mark. It's helped him turn his back, not only on drug-taking, but also on the temptation to deal. Which some on the estate see as an easy option. So, having rejected the illegal way out, Kurt's family are cutting costs by living with Rachel's mother.

KURT: Can I have some water?

JANE: Yes, you can...

BRADSHAW: Because of their debts, they can't afford to move out. Fortunately, Jane likes having them around.

JANE TARGET Kurt's grandmother

They're lovely. I wouldn't be without them. I mean, fair enough, one day they may have to move on, bless them, and they deserve a place of their own, but Mark's such a lovely chap. (Laughs)

BRADSHAW: But I mean, it's tough for them. They've got financial problems.

JANE: Oh yes, they do, well.. you can't be downhearted about money, surely it's family that matters.

BRADSHAW: Mark and Rachel started borrowing 3 years ago, when Rachel was in hospital with a burst appendix and stopped earning for a few weeks. They started using credit cards to help with necessities, but them things started getting out of control.

MARK: I don't know what happened to me this year, to be honest. All the pressure of debt and bills and fucking teeth and stuff like that going on in my head.


MARK: Yeah, Rachel's teeth alone was costing us about... probably about 400 quid last year alone, you know, just for a... just for herself, like, and her teeth are still just as bad now. So it's like, do you know what I mean? How much is it going to cost to get them done, you know? It's just too much money. I can never earn enough to be able to pay it all back, and just then when you need it the most, you get some asshole fucking finance companies giving you the magic, you know, isn't it. "Yeah, spend money you really don't have, and then we'll charge you an arm and a leg for it," you know, isn't it?

BRADSHAW: NHS Direct say their nearest NHS dentist, currently taking on patients is 14 miles away, but Rachel's dental health is one thing, Mark's little extravagance, quite another.

BRADSHAW: To be fair, that's not the only reason you're in debt.



MARK: Ah ha, ha, ha! Dooh! Oh, damn it. (Laughs) Oh...

BRADSHAW: What are the other reasons you're in debt?

MARK: Me, I didn't have to get that bike.

BRADSHAW: Do you blame Mark for the debt?

RACHEL: No. (Laughs) I don't blame you for the debt. It was a necessity as well, for us to get to work, and I mean, Mark used to drive me to and from work every day, and get himself to and from work all the time.

(Beep) (answer machine "¿seventeen thousand, two hundred and seventy five pounds and sixty three pence..")

MARK: Right.

BRADSHAW: Rachel knows they would be heavily in debt even without the bike. They've now pooled their debts with a commercial loan company, to whom they're paying £360 a month. That's a 1/3 of Mark's take-home pay. They can just about manage, if they stay in work, but as Rachel has discovered, that's far from guaranteed.

RACHEL: We can say, "Yeah, it's all going to be great," but the chances are I could be losing my job, which means we're back at square one nearly. So it's not...

MARK: We're just trying to pay off as much as possible for when that...

RACHEL: We're just trying to do as much as we can and...

MARK: ... when that happens.

BRADSHAW: The NHS Psychiatric home where Rachel works is about to close. So she could lose her job any day now. So far, she's been offered no alternative. That will leave the family entirely dependent on Mark and Jane as the breadwinners, but Jane too, is earning close to the minimum wage. Financially, she's living right on the edge.

JANE: I work in a large supermarket as a domestic, basically, I'm a supervisor, before tax I earn £213.33, but I'm left with £174.58.

BRADSHAW: For a full week's work?

JANE: For a full week's work, yes. The only way I could earn more is to work Sundays, and I don't want to do that, because I go to church. Well, basically, I don't want to compromise my faith, so therefore I have to give up that extra money that I need.

(Church singing)

JANE: I worked it out with my bank. They said after my incomings and outgoings, and everything we're calculating, that I only had £9 a month to live on.

BRADSHAW: While Jane faces a conflict between income and her faith, Mark a conflict between financial obligations and his son's needs. His job brings in around £275 a week, but to earn that, he has to work 56 hours of nightshifts - especially depressing when so much goes on paying off all those debts. He has just a few hours sleep before picking up Kurt.

How are you feeling?

MARK: I'm absolutely exhausted now. I've had about 4 hours sleep, and I'm done in.

BRADSHAW: So, what do you do about that? I mean, that's the problem, presumably.

MARK: There's nothing I can do about it. I have a... do you know what I mean? Find a job that pays well enough, and is like, 9 to 5 in which case, I could get childcare to look after him, and trust me, I've looked for jobs, just like that, and they don't exist. I mean, I could get, like, 2, 3 hours work here and there, as a cleaner and stuff, but... it's just not enough money. So, I'm stuck in this hole. Getting up, sort of, 2 o'clock in the afternoon, going and picking Kurt up, staying awake 'til f-----g 9, 10 o'clock tomorrow morning, getting another 4 hours sleep, and then getting up again at 2o'clock and picking him up. It's just... it's too much.

BRADSHAW: If he's going to give Kurt the support he needs, Mark himself may need help. Some people around here do get assistance from government programs. Right next to Kurt's school is the local Sure Start. Sure Start is the government's flagship scheme to help low-income parents with health, education, childcare and employment. It's cost 2 and a ½ million pounds in Rowner alone, but there's a catch. Sure Start is directed mainly at families with kids under 5, and Kurt is 7. Some people in Rowner are trying hard to help older kids and bring their community alive. Carnival is their big day. Kurt gets decorated for the occasion. Carnival is organised by a drop-in centre, Rowner Access Point, another government-funded project which offers financial, training, and legal advice.

MARK: 5 years ago, you wouldn't have got us all out there, you know, we wouldn't have been there, we wouldn't have seen any of that, but like, yeah now, now we can. Now we're all coming together, and we're not such a bad group of people. Just got a few problems, that's all.

BRADSHAW: One problem, is that funding for the Rowner Access Point runs out in just over a year, and the government's National Neighbourhood Renewal Program doesn't benefit Rowner. A small pocket of deprivation in well-off Hampshire is not seen as a priority. Rowner Access Point isn't the only glimmer of light, which may soon be extinguished.

KURT: That was a nice one, Dad!

BRADSHAW: This is Splatter Yob. Having successfully targeted ex-Rowner Crew member Scott Gray, Kurt's now got Scott's mate in his sights. Splatter Yob was the idea of this place, Time Out. Time Out runs a football club for local kids. Police say it's also helped divert the Rowner Crew from criminal behaviour. It, too, will run out of its government funding next year. Starring in the football team gave Scott a new sense of purpose. He even got a job, but now his past has come back to haunt him.


Basically, I've got loads of previous offences, I needed a job, I thought, that if I told them about all my previous offences, they wouldn't employ me. So I didn't. I end... they ended up doing a check, I ended up getting arrested for obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, and now I've got the sack from the job, and I'm in court for it, looking at a jail sentence.

BRADSHAW: A jail sentence?

SCOTT: Yeah, could be.

BRADSHAW: For Scott's mum, Kim, it's a bitter twist.

KIM GRAY Scott's mother

He's always been a non-achiever, and when he came home with his football trophies I was so proud, and when I went to watch him at the football matches, and you know, I was just really proud. I thought, "That's my boy, and if this is the only thing I can be proud of him for, you know, then I am," and sort of, like, him going off to get a job and everything, I was really proud of him. For, just being a cleaner, you know, a lot of boys wouldn't be, you know, they would say, "I'm not going to be a cleaner," but Scott was prepared to clean, and cleaned well, and still lost the job, and I think that's even sadder.

BRADSHAW: It's just the kind of fate Mark fears lies in store for Kurt. Hi escape from all the stress is taking to the road. From up here, he can look down on the very different worlds of Rowner and Alverstoke next door.

MARK: It's only across the road, it's like, I... well, half a mile, not even that, and it's like heaven and hell. We're everything they don't want in life. Do you know what I mean? We're... their nightmare, if you like, is Rowner, and our heaven is, like, Alverstoke and they don't want what we've got, but we want what they've got. We want the comfort, we want the good doctors and, we want better teachers, and better education, the whole lot, but it's foolish, and it's, you know, I'm just one in thousands that's saying it.

BRADSHAW: Scott's had his day in court. He's had to explain why he lied about his convictions to get work.

SCOTT: It was all right. Didn't get banged up, but I got a 12 months supervision, 40 hours community service, I got to do an enhanced thinking and learning skills program, and an £85 fine.

BRADSHAW: So, one more conviction, and still no job. Kurt's back at school. With poor grades himself, Mark knows it's education, education and education that offers the best hope of a future for Kurt. But once again, Kurt's chances of success may depend on his postcode. Some schools in the Rowner area do achieve good grades, but right across Britain, the poorer the postcode, the more likely kids are to have poor grades. Pupils at Kurt's local secondary school are about half as likely to score 5 good grades as pupils at school in Alverstoke. Some would say Kurt might stand a better chance if both his parents didn't work full-time. They say that's just not a realistic option.

RACHEL: We just don't get to spend time together, really, and Kurt misses his dad when he's working, and... but he can't afford to... to live without both of us working.

BRADSHAW: For weeks now, Mark has been putting up with long hours and nightshifts which have put real strains on the family, and left him with little time to spend with Kurt. Then, one day in September, Mark gives up his job.

MARK: I just couldn't... I couldn't handle it no more. Just the idea of being there for 9 hours, doing all of that, so I didn't go in. Sort of AWOL at the moment, and my intention is just not to go back, because it's just, it takes too much of who I am, I suppose. I ain't got time or energy to do anything else, other than work, and I don't like that. I want my life back. I want a decent job with some good money.

BRADSHAW: 3 weeks later, Mark's still coming to terms with what he's done.

Have you signed on yet? Are you on the dole?

MARK: No, no, I feel like, I don't know, if signing on just means that...

BRADSHAW: Would you prefer life on the dole?

MARK: No, I'd prefer so much to just get a job.

BRADSHAW: Do you want to be on welfare?

MARK: No, not at all. I'd rather earn enough money to not get any benefits whatsoever, so I never have to fill out one of those stupid forms every 3 months, isn't it?

BRADSHAW: I mean, even so, will people hear you saying "Well, I walked out of a job, and didn't bother to tell them that I'd given it up." Isn't that...? I mean...

RACHEL: [laughs]

MARK: That's just me... I'm a nightmare like that.

BRADSHAW: But people will think, "Well, you know, gets what he deserves." Some people may think that.

MARK: Yeah.

BRADSHAW: The financial implications could be catastrophic, though Kurt reckons there's an upside.

KURT: I hated you working when... I didn't hate you actually, I hated you working at your job.

MARK: Why?

KURT: Because I didn't get to spend time with you. You didn't get to spend time with me. We both hated it.

MARK: Yeah, you're right. I hated it.

BRADSHAW: So, not only is Mark out of work; Rachel is about to lose her job too. Here on the estate, kids are about 9 times as likely to have no working parents, as kids in Alverstoke. Mother-in-law Jane though doesn't blame Mark.

JANE TARGETT Kurt's grandmother Well, it's decision, if he... I would rather he gave up his job, than had a nervous breakdown, or felt really trapped by it. He'll get another. He'll be all right.

BRADSHAW: Finding a job which doesn't drive Mark crazy, will be tough. For some, the temptation to resort to Rowner's illegal economy would be hard to resist. You worried about getting sucked back into the drugs thing?

MARK: No, not at all. I'm above all that now. Isn't it?

RACHEL: Mm, mm.

BRADSHAW: Because some people don't just find a way out - not just by doing drugs - but by dealing in them and so on. I mean, that's not...

MARK: Oh, don't get me wrong, I've... in the past I was, you know, it's like the temptation is like, incredible. I mean, knowing what I know, and the people that I've met, and stuff, I could seriously make about £2,000 a week, and but... especially with Kurt, I don't want to spend 8 years of his life in a prison.


MARK: You know, I want to be outside with him, and I won't do anything to jeopardise that.

BRADSHAW: So instead, it's down to the Job Centre. Though the vacancies are not quite what he had in mind.

MARK: Ah, there's a few things in there: drag queen. I could become a drag queen, £8 to £10 an hour, look. This is my favourite: I could become a stripper. Yeah, £100 a set, look. I'd have to build up a little bit and all that lot, but you know, it's like, and here's one I really want to go for: caretaker, cleaner job, maintenance, and all that.

BRADSHAW: The job is as a caretaker in Sure Start. It's the only full-time job with the hours he needs, but Mark is out of luck, the job has gone to one of the 36 applicants - most of them from Rowner. Even in the surrounding area of Gosport, where unemployment is low, people from the Rowner estate, still find it hard to get regular, well-paid work.

BRADSHAW: But why not get out of Rowner? What about outside...

MARK: That's why I look... I look for jobs all, you know, like all round Gosport, Fareham, and then, like, I've widened my search to Winchester, Guildford, anywhere really, anywhere that pays well.

BRADSHAW: And what happens?

MARK: There's just nothing... there's nothing around really. You've got to have this qualification, and experience in this field and it's a real specific job that, like, probably only, like, 2, 3 people in the country would actually, probably be suitable, or qualified to do, and it's like, but I would be probably be able, or more capable of doing that job, if they gave me a chance, but you don't have qualifications in this very specific, you don't fill the gap, then it's just like, "No."

YVETTE COOPER MP Minister for Housing and Planning

Well, unemployment in Gosport is around 1.4%, so there are new jobs in the area being created, but the key thing is...

BRADSHAW: But they're all very often low-paid jobs and bad hours.

COOPER: Well, the key thing is to have the qualifications to be able to get better paid jobs. So, in the end, for a lot of people you've got to have more chance to get new skills, to get new qualifications, otherwise you can't get the better paid jobs that people aspire to.

BRADSHAW: What's stopping you getting more qualifications? And why can't you just go and do it?

RACHEL: We can't afford for him.

MARK: Kurt, Kurt, money, dogs, trying to, oh you know, look after Rachel.

RACHEL: Look after me? (Laughs)

BRADSHAW: And if people say, "He's, you know, too lazy. He can't be bothered."

MARK: Oh, not at all, I mean, give me... give me a good job, that I get some kind of, you know, satisfaction and pride out of, and I'll give it 120, 30%.

RACHEL: In fact, Mark's really quite old-fashioned. He wants to go out there and earn all the money, and have me at home, don't you? (Laughs)

MARK: Yeah, yeah I do.

BRADSHAW: Low pay, easy credit, drugs, low-aspirations: the problems of deprived areas like Kurt's are clear, but how effective are the obvious solutions? Pouring money into the estate doesn't necessarily create permanent jobs, or make low-paid ones easier to live on. Educating bright kids, like Kurt, to get better jobs could just mean they'll leave the estate, depriving it of their talents and energy. Despite the government's vision, Mark and Rachel feel trapped. Do you think it's realistic as a government to say that nobody in Britain should be disadvantaged by where they live?

RACHEL: It's not very realistic at all, is it?

MARK: It's pipedreams, that's what that is. It's where they sit in an office and they think, "Ooh, wouldn't it be nice if life was like this," and they try to come up with some way of, like, you know, making it happen, but, do you know what I mean? In reality, you're looking at... it's just too big. How can you tackle... that's such a big chunk, you know, isn't it? To make promises like that is like, no, that's totally unrealistic.

BRADSHAW: What do you.. what can you say to Mark, Rachel and Kurt? They really do believe that what you're trying to do is a pipedream. What can you say to them?

COOPER: Well, it's not my job to tell any family how to live their life, or what they should do. What I do think the government must do, however, is to make sure there are opportunities in every area. That means opportunities to get new qualifications, to get new skills or training, and find different jobs, it means opportunities for childcare, and opportunities for support for the family too. We are expanding those opportunities. We've still got further to go, but we have already provided more support for those families, and we've got to do more.

BRADSHAW: Of course, one way of doing more, might be simply to knock estates, like Rowner, down, and in some places, that is being tried, but there are those who'd rather make existing communities work. After all, some people just don't want to start all over again, including Kurt. What do you think?

KURT: No, I think it should stay as it is. No one should start again, no one.

BRADSHAW: Prosperous Alverstoke, next door to Rowner, is a community that won't have to start again; a place for the comfortably off, families in good jobs, the retired. The estate in Rowner, for all its grey concrete heart, is a younger person's place. It should be a place of hope, not despair. Kurt still wants to call it home. The tragedy is, that the longer he does, the worse his chances of a decent future.

If you want to comment on tonight's programme or see recent Panorama's on broadband, visit our website. Next week on Panorama, how soon should British troops be brought home from Iraq? That's "Troops Out" 10.15, next Sunday.


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