The levels of deprivation and inequality across Sussex have been revealed in a charity’s report released today (Thursday November 10).
Hastings, Brighton & Hove, and Eastbourne have the highest levels of overall deprivation according to figures in Sussex Community Foundation’s report ‘Sussex Uncovered 2: Bridging the Gap’, followed by Rother, Adur, Crawley, Arun, Worthing, Lewes, Chichester, Wealden, Horsham, and Mid Sussex.
There are 14 wards in Sussex in the top ten per cent of most deprived areas in England and 26 in the top 20 per cent, with only Mid Sussex, Horsham, Chichester, and Adur having none.
Unemployment in Sussex is higher than the South East average but lower than average national figures, with the average salary at £28,752, which is below the average across England (£29,100).
Meanwhile skills, education and training deprivation is above the national average in Hastings, Adur, Arun, Crawley, Eastbourne, and Rother.
The most deprived Sussex wards on barriers to housing and services are mostly in the Wealden, Chichester, and Horsham districts.
Brighton & Hove has the highest living environment deprivation, which measures the quality of the local environment, while Crawley has by far the lowest.
Lastly the report also ranks small areas of 1,500 residents on the proportion of child poverty, with a part of Baird in Hastings at the top with more than three quarters of children living in income-deprived households, compared to the lowest figure in the Mid Sussex village of Lindfield, where the figure is less than one per cent.
Kevin Richmond, chief executive at the Sussex Community Foundation, said: “The first Sussex Uncovered report was the first report to give a broad view of issues facing local communities across the entirety of Sussex.
“It found that Sussex is a great place to live if you can afford it. In this report, we wanted to look in a more qualitative way to uncover what is going on at the grassroots.”
He added: “We asked a number of the groups that we have funded to tell us about the services they provide, how they are managing the new funding environment and their hopes for the future. Their views and experiences are reflected in this report.”
According to the report, reductions in Government spending has started to have a ‘real impact’ on Sussex residents and on the charities and community groups that support them.
The report’s executive summary states: “Many local charities feel they are facing the perfect storm of increasing need, reducing funding and an uncertain future.
“We aim to provide shelter from the storm for the local community by providing a flexible and responsive source of funding for the people who give their time to help those in need.
“Sussex is a great place to live, if you can afford it. We hope that this report will show our current and future donors what the needs of Sussex people continue to be and how, together, we can use our unique model of community philanthropy to support the charities and community groups and volunteers that work so hard to make Sussex a great place to live for everyone.”
Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council, explained that the data showed that Hastings was ‘generally improving’ in terms of becoming less deprived, with some dramatic improvements in some pockets of the borough.
While the picture seemed to show general average improvements overall, the richer areas are improving faster than the poorer areas, with significant poverty in some parts of Hastings, such as the Broomgrove Estate neighbourhood, which is the eleventh most deprived area in terms of income and employment deprivation in the whole of England.
Mr Chowney added: “But in the end, it will be by continuing to improve the image and environment of Hastings overall that we’ll be able to attract more employers offering good quality jobs to local people.
“But it’s about skills and training too - other IMD indicators show that skills level and educational attainment is significantly worse in those more deprived areas.
“More recent data on educational achievement and employment than the data used in the IMD appear to show improvements in these most deprived SOAs [super output areas], but there’s still a long way to go.
“The council is hoping to get EU funding (through the Community Led Local Development scheme) which will help us address skills, training, and employability in these most deprived areas.
“Overall, a lot more public investment is needed in Hastings and other towns with areas of significant deprivation.
“For us, that means improvements to transport infrastructure so it’s a more attractive place for employers, but investment in improving educational attainment, skills and employability too.”
Three areas in Brighton & Hove, East Brighton, Queen’s Park, and Moulsecoomb & Bevendean rank in the top ten per cent nationally for deprivation.
All three wards are in the Brighton Kemptown constituency, and its MP Simon Kirby said: “This Government’s driving mission is to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few and it is vital to do everything possible to help people with the cost of living.
“I passionately believe that the surest route out of poverty is through work and am delighted that the Government has overseen falls in unemployment, got the deficit down and helped more people into work than ever before.
“I am also particularly pleased that millions of the lowest paid have been taken out of income tax, a new National Living Wage has been introduced, one and a half million more children are now in good or outstanding schools and there are 3 million new apprenticeships.
“However, more needs to be done to put the Government at the service of ordinary working class people – focussing on the good that government can do.
“I will be monitoring the situation closely and will continue to be a loud voice for all residents in Brighton Kemptown & Peacehaven.”
Labour’s Emma Daniel, chair of the Neighbourhoods, Communities and Equalities Committee at Brighton & Hove City Council, added: “We really welcome the work of the Sussex Community Foundation in continuing to highlight deprivation and inequality across Sussex, including the extent of child poverty in many areas.
“This week the End Child Poverty coalition has also published national and local figures on child poverty. What these reports tell us is that we need much more government action, not least on in-work poverty and the national housing crisis.
“But the reality of significant deprivation in some parts of the city is why Labour – as one of our first acts when coming into administration - established the city’s Fairness Commission. We wanted to listen to residents’ real life experiences and also get the views of as many organisations as possible about what might be effective local actions to reduce inequality in the city. We are now reaching cross-party support for the next steps from the Fairness Commission, one of which intends to provide more support to families in the city struggling on low incomes – which is to poverty proof the school day.
“Alongside this we are asking everyone to support desperately needed more affordable housing options in the city, and a fairer housing deal for everyone - high housing costs are a key driver of poverty in our city, and affect young people’s life chances.
“Given the many funding constraints and significant challenges, we would like thank the many partners who are working across the city and with the council to take action on poverty and inequality, which includes work to reduce rough sleepers, and work on financial inclusion and fuel poverty.”
Meanwhile Eastbourne has now fallen below the national average for deprivation since the Sussex Community Foundation’s first report on poverty published in 2013.
David Tutt, leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, said: “The Sussex Community Foundation’s report correctly identifies that there are pockets of deprivation and child poverty across East Sussex including parts of Eastbourne.
“As a borough council we will do all that we can in these challenging times when Government are cutting benefits to combat this.
“To this end we will continue to work in partnership with the many voluntary and charitable organisations in the town to find ways of easing this hardship and provide opportunities to help people escape poverty.”
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