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Notes to Editors
22% of the population in East Devon is in relative poverty, half those in poverty are single parents nearly 33% are children. Nearly half (48%) of people in poverty live in a family where someone is disabled. Some 3,500 are on ESA and considered unable to work. This is not only rent cost inflation but short tenures and the failure of housing benefit to keep up. 31% of pensioners who rent are in poverty (source Public Health England and ONS local Authority statistics)
East Devon Deprivation
Office of National Statistics shows some 11.956 households in East Devon have 2 or more scores for deprivation but this drops to 1,187 households for 3 or more. The highest numbers of households in deprivation are in Exmouth Town, Exmouth Littleham, Exmouth Withycombe, Honiton St. Michaels, Honiton St Pauls, Sidford and Seaton. Each Ward has 100 or more households in deprivation on 3 or 4 dimensions. Action in these 7 wards would halve serious deprivation in East Devon
In East Devon, Public Health Devon official statistics show 8.7% of people in serious income deprivation, 9.6% of households are in fuel poverty. 9.2 % of pensioners are in poverty 16% of households have no car or van. 10.3% of East Devon children are in low-income families. Half of these children are in working families. After the cost of housing is taken into account, 22% of East Devon Children are growing up in poverty. This means 6,344 children are in poverty - each one an individual.
What Conservatives did on poverty relief while in control of East Devon District Council?
Whilst recognising that we have a voice to lobby for change to national policies we also have opportunities to influence local outcomes. As a local authority some of our services are geared towards supporting individuals and communities that are disadvantaged. We are uniquely placed to identify deprivation and disadvantage and act within the powers we have available to deliver our priority of outstanding communities.
In East Devon, we have seen homelessness rise in recent years with an increasing number of people coming to us are struggling with financial and/or mental health problems. Conservatives updated the Council’s Homelessness Strategy and the measures we are operating to tackle homelessness locally. Often one of the consequences of people living in poverty is where circumstances suddenly change and where they are living in poor housing or worst still lose their home because they are unable to afford the rising rental costs.
In Housing we have been undertaking a longitudinal study of tenants and housing register applicants titled Your Home: Your Wellbeing. This study with Birmingham University and LiveWest is revealing that those living in affordable, secure housing have improved wellbeing, sense of security and less anxious with fewer money problems than those in the private rented sector and seeking social housing.
We feel our approach as a Council priority on developing our own housing and requiring developers to provide affordable housing was fully justifies when we were in power (set out in the Housing Strategy and Local Plan).
We developed a Public Health Plan for healthy communities and individuals as well as addressing health inequalities. This requires sufficient household resources to secure good quality housing, employment, education, diet, transport and healthy lifestyle choices to achieve wellbeing. So addressing poverty can lead to improved health of the population.
We developed a Corporate Debt Strategy which attempts to assist people in prioritising their debts to the Council. While we have a legal duty to recover sums due to the council, our policy aims to ensure that collection is both fair and cost effective, and that our approach across the different recovery teams will be professional, uniform and timely
In East Devon some 18% of children were identified as being in poverty (after housing costs) by the End Child Poverty 2014 Child Poverty Map of the UK.
Universal Credit system has been causing hardship due to delays in payment, reduced payments, leading to rent arrears, greater use of foodbanks, hunger (House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report January 2019) and a range of other social/welfare impacts.
We are aware of Food Banks in our main towns and several we helped set up with start-up funding.
Note: Local authorities have a statutory duty to:
Assess and keep housing conditions under review
Take enforcement action to address the most serious health and safety hazards
Licence large Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
Administer and approve Disabled Facilities Grants
Prepare plans to improve home energy efficiency
They also have powers to:
provide financial and other assistance to tackle poor house conditions
deal with empty homes and
deal with poor management in HMOs. Where a landlord has committed a relevant offence, a tenant or local housing authority may apply for an order requiring repayment of rent to the tenant/local housing authority
John Golding report July 2019
“We might also review our Council priorities as part of our investigations prior to the refresh of the Council Plan, and without prejudging the outcomes, I anticipate we will be confirming affordable housing, health & wellbeing, the local economy and welfare support as ongoing ambitions to support our residents”
December 2018 a motion was put to full Council - “Following the findings of both the UK Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the UN Special Rapporteur on the impact of benefits changes and other spending cuts on people living in the UK, this Council will receive a report on the potential impacts on residents in East Devon and the need for further support from this Council, for example in supporting the roll-out of Universal Credit, homelessness prevention or for local food banks.”
December 2018 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) published their annual report examining the nature and scale of poverty in this country titled – UK Poverty 2018. The research findings headlines indicated that more than one in five of our UK population (22%) are in poverty.
East Devon Review of Policies on Poverty
Following a Council resolution, a presentation was delivered to Overview by John Golding in March 2019, themes were agreed for a localised investigation and analysis of poverty and related social welfare issues, working with Devon Strategic Partnership A timetable for action set to end July 2019 and a report back on the findings was expected. At the same meeting, a list of suggestions was appended for action by East Devon District Council.
In the meantime, Overview Committee is asked to look at a range of suggestions put forward for immediate action by this Authority. Since the Devon Strategic Partnership Welfare task group were timetabled to report in July, we expect further initiatives through this autumn
Poverty can be defined relative to income as relative income poverty or absolute poverty. In relative poverty, each household’s income, adjusted for family size, is compared to median income. (The median is the “middle” income: half of the people have more than the median and half have less.) Those with less than 60 per cent of median income are classified as poor. This ‘poverty line’ is the agreed international measure used throughout the European Union. This is used in the UK
Absolute poverty by contrast is about being destitute; about not having enough for basic needs
The relative poverty threshold is around £195 a week for a lone parent with two children. Using this definition there are over 3 million UK children living in poverty. Shockingly almost half of these children (1.4 million) live in families with a household income far below this – an average of £124 per week for one adult and two children. At least half of the children living in poverty have a parent who works, showing that low paid work is just as likely to cause financial hardship as reliance on benefits. http://www.family-action.org.uk/section.aspx?id=691 58% of those in poverty are in “persistent poverty” (people who would also have fallen below the poverty line in at least two of the last three years). This is as of 2015/16
The Practical implications of poverty are that you do not have enough money for:-
• heating to keep home adequately warm; • a damp-free home; • two meals a day; • the ability to visit friends or family in hospital or other institutions; • the ability to replace or repair broken electrical goods; • fresh fruit and vegetables every day• celebrations on special occasions; • all recommended dental treatment; • a warm, waterproof coat; • the ability to attend weddings, funerals and the like; • meat, fish or vegetarian equivalent every other day; • curtains or window blinds; • household contents insurance; • enough money to keep your home in a decent state of decoration; • hobby/leisure activity; • appropriate clothes for job interviews; • table and chairs at which all the family can eat; • for taking part in sport/exercise activities or classes; • for two pairs of all-weather shoes; • for regular savings of at least £20 per month for future financial challenges; • for regular payments to a pension.
3.3 Universal Credit is being rolled out in East Devon. The new system is being rolled out in stages and being administered by the Department of Work and Pensions. The original idea behind Universal Credit of combining six different benefits (Child Tax Credit; Housing Benefit; Income Support; income based Job Seekers Allowance; income related Employment Support Allowance; and Working Tax Credit) into one and making work pay were sound, but the rollout and means of accessing funds have proven controversial. It is paid monthly. Further details are on GOV.UK website https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit