Study shows shocking extent of poverty in Wakefieldpoverty

The Wakefield Together partnership are launching an independent Wakefield Poverty and Prosperity Commission to help tackle issues of poverty in the area, pictured are Peter Box and Andrew Slade. (w610b251)
The Wakefield Together partnership are launching an independent Wakefield Poverty and Prosperity Commission to help tackle issues of poverty in the area, pictured are Peter Box and Andrew Slade. (w610b251)

THE shocking extent of poverty in the city has been revealed in a new report commissioned by Wakefield Council.

Eastmoor, Lupset, Portobello and parts of the city centre were labelled ‘priority neighbourhoods’ after they were found to be in the UK’s most deprived 10 per cent.

The independent Wakefield Poverty and Prosperity Commission, which produced the report, threw down the gauntlet to the council and its partners, including Wakefield and District Housing, NHS Wakefield District and police, this week to tackle the issue.

The report said links between joblessness and early death were “worryingly high” and that people in the most deprived areas lived almost nine years less than those in more affluent areas.

It warned that poverty would increase unless higher-skilled and better-paid jobs were created.

Prof Andrew Slade, chair of the commission and deputy vice-chancellor for research and enterprise at Leeds Metropolitan Unversity, said: “This report challenges the council to think in different ways.

“In a time of decreasing public resource the council has got to get more co-operation between organisations.”

The report said people’s health was poorer than the national average, and Eastmoor was ranked the worst area in the Wakefield district for health and disability.

Children born in deprived wards were found to be nine times more likely to have low birth weight than those in affluent areas.

It said: “Overall health has been improving but the overall picture for the district may hide increasing health inequalities. There is a perception that services do not always match need, particularly in priority areas.”

The commission praised the council for its efforts to invest in major developments such as The Hepworth and Trinity Walk, but said the benefits had not been felt in all areas and the gap between rich and poor had widened.

They said organisations needed to work more effectively together, transport links needed to improve and that some services needed to be “redesigned”.

Council leader Coun Peter Box said: “We welcome this report and, where possible in these challenging economic times, will strive to make sure its recommendations are implemented.

“We know times are tough and getting tougher for local people – and we welcome the expert independent views of the commission to help us to support communities and families under strain.”