Herefordshire Housing chief blasts 'absolute deprivation' in county

Hereford Times: (6803826) (6803826)

HEREFORDSHIRE’S chronic “deprivation” surpasses Brixton, Swansea and Slough, according to the county’s social housing chief.

And, in an article written for the social housing website 24dash.com, Peter Brown, said that the county is trending downwards.

Cuts to welfare are estimated to hit Herefordshire to the tune of £43m a year and, as someone who works on the frontline in the battle against that deprivation, it’s a policy that Mr Brown believes is “unforgiveable”.

The reality, he said, is that these welfare changes target the poor, and communities that need support are the ones that will suffer.

“The report spells out unequivocally that the changes over the coming years will result in more people in the county living in poverty, with the poorest most affected,” said Mr Brown.

“I've worked in Brixton, Reading, Swansea, Slough, Birmingham and Walsall among others; everywhere there are problems, everywhere there is poverty.

“But for absolute deprivation, Herefordshire surpasses them all.”

His damning condemnation comes following the publication of Herefordshire Council’s annual review, Understanding Herefordshire.

The report paints an unflattering picture, not just economically, but also identifying the human costs to budget cuts by central government.

Mr Brown said: “In the poorest areas, over a quarter of children in Year Six are obese.

“As they approach 18, they are over three times more likely to be admitted to hospital due to binge drinking than if they live in the least deprived areas, significantly higher than the national average.

“Those living in the most deprived areas are a third more likely to die of cancer, nearly 50 percent more likely to die of coronary heart disease and Herefordshire’s children are more likely than their neighbours of becoming ‘in need’.

“This is why we invest in society. This is exactly what the welfare state was designed for.

“Morally, because it’s the right thing to do, but also for efficiency and productivity.

“The costs of dealing with breakdowns, crises and abuse, far outweigh early intervention and prevention.”

The Understanding Herefordshire report itself also outlines the economic one-two punch of low wages and relatively high house prices that is critical to Herefordshire’s poverty levels.

More businesses are closing than starting up, according to the latest statistics available in the report, and there is no evidence to explain why Herefordshire’s wages are not increasing in line with its neighbours.

The knock-on effect on Herefordshire Housing markets is not good.

Mr Brown said: “Dramatically, around a fifth of households in Herefordshire live in poverty - homeownership is just not an option for many.”

And that £43m in cuts is not just coming out of the pockets of the poorest, he added, but £43m less in the local economy.

It is a spiralling effect that, with Herefordshire’s growing population and its worrying reliance on ‘low value sector’ employment outlined in the council report, could present real long-term problems for the area if not addressed.

Comments (7)

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5:48am Thu 5 Jun 14

B the B says...

He paints a pretty grim picture. While I agree with a lot of what he says there are those that are benefit cheats, these need tackling too.
He paints a pretty grim picture. While I agree with a lot of what he says there are those that are benefit cheats, these need tackling too. B the B
  • Score: -10

6:03am Thu 5 Jun 14

fmrbill says...

Well doesnt take a genius to work it out. Various reason 1) some support is avilable but council have admitted they aint paying out the money from a fund which is there to support people in financial difficulties 2) look at old matket shopping centre all national chains, therefore money not staying in local community 3) this would relate to what ukip are saying but words one dare not say else you are called a racist cheap wages and one again what they dont spend leaves this country to their homes elsewhere. 4) people not coming into town due to local ciuncil parking charges etc town and grass verges look a mess list goes on and I aint on a wage this bloke is on to work it out.but thats another story !!!!!!!!
Well doesnt take a genius to work it out. Various reason 1) some support is avilable but council have admitted they aint paying out the money from a fund which is there to support people in financial difficulties 2) look at old matket shopping centre all national chains, therefore money not staying in local community 3) this would relate to what ukip are saying but words one dare not say else you are called a racist cheap wages and one again what they dont spend leaves this country to their homes elsewhere. 4) people not coming into town due to local ciuncil parking charges etc town and grass verges look a mess list goes on and I aint on a wage this bloke is on to work it out.but thats another story !!!!!!!! fmrbill
  • Score: 7

9:58am Thu 5 Jun 14

mizza21 says...

I have lived in Herefordshire for over 10 years. I've never worked in Herefordshire though because there just isn't the work.
I know people who run businesses in Herefordshire and it's a hard market to work because there's not a lot of money in the county.
I do worry for my Kids and I suppose like most they'll move away eventually when they outgrow the local job market or need a proper University education.

This is the result of years of council intransigence.
No bypass, no investment in infrastructure etc etc
I have lived in Herefordshire for over 10 years. I've never worked in Herefordshire though because there just isn't the work. I know people who run businesses in Herefordshire and it's a hard market to work because there's not a lot of money in the county. I do worry for my Kids and I suppose like most they'll move away eventually when they outgrow the local job market or need a proper University education. This is the result of years of council intransigence. No bypass, no investment in infrastructure etc etc mizza21
  • Score: 16

7:50pm Thu 5 Jun 14

dippyhippy says...

Interesting comment from Peter Brown. He quite rightly lambasts the levels of deprivation in this county, and quite rightly draws attention to the fact that to withdraw money for early intervention is a shortsighted plan. He cost of fixing things later down the line far exceeds this.
However, he makes no mention that Hereford Housing charge in the region of £167.00 per week to house homeless families in temporary accomadation. Hehas stated previously that this money is paid through housing benefit..........not tru if you are a working family who ave been made homeless.
Working families make up a large percentage of those who live in poverty in Hereford.
Working families who find themselves homeless get very little in the was of assistance, and by the time any application for benefits t help offset this huge rent comes through, they are in arrears - another black mark against them.
I applaud Mr Brown for speaking out on this, but would ask him to examine what goes on in his own company as well.
Interesting comment from Peter Brown. He quite rightly lambasts the levels of deprivation in this county, and quite rightly draws attention to the fact that to withdraw money for early intervention is a shortsighted plan. He cost of fixing things later down the line far exceeds this. However, he makes no mention that Hereford Housing charge in the region of £167.00 per week to house homeless families in temporary accomadation. Hehas stated previously that this money is paid through housing benefit..........not tru if you are a working family who ave been made homeless. Working families make up a large percentage of those who live in poverty in Hereford. Working families who find themselves homeless get very little in the was of assistance, and by the time any application for benefits t help offset this huge rent comes through, they are in arrears - another black mark against them. I applaud Mr Brown for speaking out on this, but would ask him to examine what goes on in his own company as well. dippyhippy
  • Score: 18

9:38am Fri 6 Jun 14

saidflo says...

Good that he is highlighting this poverty in our county.
He does need to examine his own Herefordshire Housing company.
I've seen poverty and experienced the homeless housing dippyhippy is referring to. Peter Brown could make a real difference to families who find themselves in the mire of homelessness by charging fairly and equally for these temporary homes.
He could also possibly review and reduce pay scales at the top in his company and it may be that he could use that money to create a few jobs which would be a good start to tackling Herefordshire poverty.
He could step up and be that someone who takes a lead on dealing with becoming more efficient and cost effective when dealing with money from the public purse. Be a local hero Mr Brown!

It is scandalous the crisis lending fund that devolved to local government has been appropriated in a way it wasn't intended to be used, seemingly to prop up the poor provision already in place, instead of distributing the money to people in dire need.
Good that he is highlighting this poverty in our county. He does need to examine his own Herefordshire Housing company. I've seen poverty and experienced the homeless housing dippyhippy is referring to. Peter Brown could make a real difference to families who find themselves in the mire of homelessness by charging fairly and equally for these temporary homes. He could also possibly review and reduce pay scales at the top in his company and it may be that he could use that money to create a few jobs which would be a good start to tackling Herefordshire poverty. He could step up and be that someone who takes a lead on dealing with becoming more efficient and cost effective when dealing with money from the public purse. Be a local hero Mr Brown! It is scandalous the crisis lending fund that devolved to local government has been appropriated in a way it wasn't intended to be used, seemingly to prop up the poor provision already in place, instead of distributing the money to people in dire need. saidflo
  • Score: 4

3:37pm Fri 6 Jun 14

dippyhippy says...

Absolutely Saidflo!

When is a crisis not a crisis?

When it happens in Hereford, and you can be signposted to an alternative provision, which means the pot of money put aside for such things, can be diverted elsewhere.

Wrong. On so many levels.
Absolutely Saidflo! When is a crisis not a crisis? When it happens in Hereford, and you can be signposted to an alternative provision, which means the pot of money put aside for such things, can be diverted elsewhere. Wrong. On so many levels. dippyhippy
  • Score: 8

8:55am Sat 7 Jun 14

WYSIATI says...

This makes interesting and disturbing reading and should be a worry to all of us.

The big picture is a huge removal of resources from the county, largely a result of central government decisions. That 43 million is money taken out of the system. All the redundancies from public services are generally some of the better paid, professional jobs. Whether you like them or not if you cut the jobs you remove income from the county.

The council has been behind the curve too often. Parts of it still need to be better but a bit of trimming here and there won't change the trend. Cutting the pay of this or that person will not make a dent on that big trend.

The politicians need to be honest and realistic about the future, they are ducking the truth still.

As dippy says the delays in paying benefits is a disgrace, punishing those already in trouble is inexcusable.

Sad thing is that we have only just started in terms of cuts.
This makes interesting and disturbing reading and should be a worry to all of us. The big picture is a huge removal of resources from the county, largely a result of central government decisions. That 43 million is money taken out of the system. All the redundancies from public services are generally some of the better paid, professional jobs. Whether you like them or not if you cut the jobs you remove income from the county. The council has been behind the curve too often. Parts of it still need to be better but a bit of trimming here and there won't change the trend. Cutting the pay of this or that person will not make a dent on that big trend. The politicians need to be honest and realistic about the future, they are ducking the truth still. As dippy says the delays in paying benefits is a disgrace, punishing those already in trouble is inexcusable. Sad thing is that we have only just started in terms of cuts. WYSIATI
  • Score: 5

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