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Camden News - by PAUL KEILTHY
Published: 5 February 2009
Intelligent urban dweller? Then brace yourself for financial doom

ARE you among the Mercedes-driving, Hampstead-dwelling “symbols of success”,
or the heavy-smoking, bus-riding “welfare borderline”?
In either case, be grateful you are not “urban intelligence”, the liberal young professional class which, according to a Town Hall think tank, stands to lose most as the recession unfolds in Camden.
The labels have been used in a report to business leaders by Sarah Mullen, a former treasury official recently appointed as the council’s chief executive.
The report said graduates with “cosmopolitan tastes”, steep rents, overdrafts and no
children made up “urban intelligence” –
Camden’s largest group – and are so exposed to unemployment and debt that they may leave the borough altogether if the recession hits hard.
Under pressure to come up with a recession-busting package but openly unsure how best to intervene, the Town Hall has spent the past three months setting its best economic brains the question of who will suffer most from the meltdown.
At a meeting with business leaders, Ms Mullen presented the borough as a “mosaic” in which three groups – “symbols of success”, “welfare borderline” and “urban intelligence”, make up 96 per cent of Camden households.
But it was not presented as a solution. Ms Mullen later told a scrutiny committee of councillors last Tuesday: “Everything is going to be affected in the recession and it is almost impossible to sum everything up in one paper – it is a moving feast, very uncertain... unprecedented.”
Critics have seized on the council’s reluctance to act. The Town Hall’s deputy leader Conservative councillor Andrew Mennear said: “I think it’s fair to say that we could have come forward in January with some measures (but) the leader and I took the view that we could mainstream the recession into our budget.
“The report shows that it is far from clear where the council should act to actually have an impact on residents.”
The “symbols of ­success” – the rich – are twice as plentiful in Camden as in the rest of London, making up ­nearly a third of households. They will, the Town Hall survey found, be “largely insulated from recession” and “less exposed to the housing downturn” because they have paid off most of their mortgage.
The only way they might be affected by the recession is if they decide that school fees are a luxury too far and put their children into Camden’s state system.
Those known as ­“welfare borderline” – at 26 per cent, a much larger proportion than most London boroughs – are described as “mostly reliant on the council for accom­modation and benefits”.

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