Today (Thursday 14 November) sees the launch of a new report from Sussex Community Foundation, Sussex Uncovered, which shows there is serious deprivation in Sussex, comparable to the most deprived inner city areas. Another key finding is that the costs of living in a rural community are substantially higher than for town-dwellers. The report, which we believe is the first report to look at issues facing local communities across the entirety of Sussex, finds that our county is a great place to live – if you can afford it and that deprived people do not always live in obviously deprived places. “Some areas of Sussex are in the top 5% most deprived in the UK and, in some areas, a shocking two-thirds of children are living in poverty,” says Chief Executive Kevin Richmond. “Much of that deprivation is centred on the coastal towns such as Hastings, Brighton, Eastbourne and Littlehampton. However, there is measurable deprivation in places such as, Rye, Bexhill, Petworth and parts of Chichester and Crawley.”
Data is drawn from the 2010 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) scores for very small geographical areas called LSOAs (lower layer super output areas). These LSOAs centre on population groups of between 1,000 and 3,000 people and so highlight small pockets of severe deprivation nestled in places that are seen as very affluent. Around 21% of people live in rural areas and those living on low incomes there can face multiple disadvantages. “If you are living on a low income in a beautiful but far-flung rural area, you’re hit with a double whammy. In some places, it is over seven kilometres to the nearest shop and it costs on average £70 per week more for a working family to live in a rural hamlet than in a town,” says Mr Richmond. Another surprising finding is the disparity in life expectancy between the poorer and wealthier areas. For example, men living in more affluent areas of Brighton & Hove will live on average over ten years longer than those in the most deprived areas.
The report will inform future grant-giving by Sussex Community Foundation. Since launching in 2006, the Foundation has raised over £12 million to invest in Sussex communities and has established itself as an effective local grant-maker. “We want to continue to support Sussex people to build their own low-cost solutions to the challenges they face,” says Mr Richmond. “Sussex Uncovered will help us ensure we’re giving the right sort of grants to the right people in the right places.”
- Significant areas of Sussex are in the 5% most deprived in the UK and experience ‘inner city’ levels of deprivation. The same areas of Hastings, Brighton & Hove and Littlehampton show up time and again. Parts of Eastbourne and Hailsham also exhibit high levels of deprivation.
- The mean annual wage in Sussex is the lowest in the South East of England. In Hastings and Adur, the average wage is nearly £10,000 per year less than the South East average.
- The worst child poverty in Sussex is in Tressell ward in Hastings where 67% of children live in poverty.
- Much deprivation is centred in the coastal towns, but there are significant pockets of deprivation in many other Sussex towns, including Hailsham and Rye.
- There are surprising differences in life expectancy in areas of Sussex. Men living in more affluent areas of Brighton & Hove will live on average over ten years longer than those in the most deprived areas.
- There is a very high proportion of older people, many living alone or in poverty. Rother and Arun are the districts with the highest proportions of older people. 30% of the population in Rother is aged over 65.
- Sussex has the highest levels of homelessness in the South East concentrated in Brighton & Hove and Crawley.
- Of those employed in Hastings, 41% work in public services, the 18th highest district in the country. At a time when Government spending is reducing, this could have a dramatic effect for a town that already has a high level of need.
- All wards in Hastings and in Brighton & Hove have health deprivation worse than the England average, as do the majority of wards in Eastbourne, Worthing and Adur.
- Deprived people do not necessarily live in deprived areas. The majority of people claiming benefits do not live in areas identified as disadvantaged.
- People living on low incomes in rural areas face a double disadvantage. Particular problems include the affordability of housing and availability of services and transport.
- Housing in Sussex is among the least affordable in the country and many people find it hard to access the services they need. Chichester is the most disadvantaged district in terms of access to services, followed by Wealden, Rother and Horsham.
This report is based primarily on the 2010 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), which is produced by the Office for National Statistics. We used this as our starting point because it is nationally available, consistent and comparable at various geographical levels. We are grateful to Local Futures, who provided a very detailed analysis of data about local issues across Sussex. Their website has been a vital tool in analysing and presenting the wealth of data available. We would also like to thank Janice Needham who edited the vast array of data available and wrote the narrative to explain its relevance. We recognize that the IMD does have its limitations; not least that it does not always convey the hidden need in rural and other smaller communities. We have therefore used supplementary data, where necessary, and invited input from other colleagues such as Action in Rural Sussex and want to thank them for their invaluable contributions.
For more information, call Miranda Kemp on 01273 409440 or email her here.