Survey paints grim picture for town on poverty

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HARTLEPOOL has been ranked fourth out of more than 300 council areas in a survey on places affected by poverty.

The town was listed in the top two per cent of a table listing the country’s most deprived areas.

The survey took into account income levels, employment, health, education, services, crime and living environment.

Out of 326 local authorities, Hartlepool was placed fourth as being at overall risk of poverty and sixth as currently being in poverty.

The town is ninth for the number of residents that have income less than 60 per cent of the national average and 13th for people at risk of long-term unemployment.

Hartlepool is also 21st in being at the greatest risk of child poverty and 13th at risk of financial exclusion.

Town leaders say the statistics are “not surprising”, especially as the figures seem to be in correlation with the reduction of spending power of local councils following Government funding cuts.

The news of the figures come after the Hartlepool Mail reported that devastating Government cuts are seeing people having to rely on food handouts and could even leave people homeless.

And Hartlepool Borough Council has an ongoing draft strategy to combat child poverty, after it was revealed that around 30 per cent of youngsters, about 7,500, are living in poverty.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “I think the findings are bleak, negative but not altogether surprising.

“I think it demonstrates all too vividly how not having a job and by having a town-wide problem of unemployment means the town’s residents are suffering and their quality of life is being undermined.

“That’s why the Government needs to have a policy in place that promotes jobs and growth far more than this relentless pursuit of deficit reduction.”

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond added: “It’s no surprise Hartlepool comes out high on all these lists, it always has done. “That’s long been recognised and long been an argument we have been putting to Government, especially when making these cuts and how disproportionate it is that they are cutting areas like Hartlepool more than cutting more affluent areas.

“Studies like this will certainly help our cause when it comes to lobbying Government.” He added that the council was committed to tackling all areas of poverty, including housing, education, job availability and financial inclusion strategies.

But he said: “There’s no magic wand to say if you sort one thing, everything else will be sorted.

“We need all the ingredients in place to move forward and we have come a long way in recent years.

“But the economic situation doesn’t help us.

“We are trying to ride out the storm as best we can to make sure we try to come out the other end.”

Middlesbrough topped the table of results, compiled by credit reference company Experian, followed by Kingston-upon-Hull and Knowsley.

Isles of Scilly, Tandridge, Hart, in Hampshire, South Northamptonshire and South Buckinghamshire were joint bottom of the league.

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