The issue of local poverty

Whilst Leicestershire is one of the richest counties in the UK, it also has one of the highest poverty rates in the country. A third of all children and young people in Leicester City alone (over 26,000 – enough to more than fill the Leicester Tigers rugby stadium) are currently living within the official definition of poverty.

Leicester is 13th in the table of local authorities with the highest rates of child poverty across the UK (End Child Poverty, Nov 16).

Leicester ranks 21st most deprived local authority of 326 local authority districts in England (Counting the of Poverty – 2016, Joseph Rowntree Foundation).

An estimated 21,000 children in Northamptonshire are living in poverty – in Northampton and Corby nearly one in five children (18%) are affected.

Since the welfare reforms of April 2013 more and more people are struggling to provide their families with the basic day-to-day necessities – many of these are ‘in work’ poverty.

The introduction of a benefit cap, the bedroom tax and the requirement that claimants must now make a contribution to their Council Tax bill means that many household budgets are under severe pressure. The abolition of the discretionary elements of the Social Fund have removed a valuable source of financial support for those reliant. The Universal Credit is meaning vulnerable people are facing new challenges.

With household budgets under so much strain, people cannot afford to replace larger items such as cookers, fridges and beds.

Poverty isn’t caused one one thing; a lack of skills, unemployment, insecure jobs and low wages, family problems and breakdowns, high costs (in particular housing costs), and an ineffective benefits system are all key issues to be addressed for long term change.