Poverty now reaches into suburban areas

Captain Alex Cadogan of the Salvation Army. Below, County Coun Azhar Ali
Captain Alex Cadogan of the Salvation Army. Below, County Coun Azhar Ali
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More than half of those in poverty now live in the suburbs, according to a new report.

Research published today found there were about seven million people in poverty living in the suburbs of England and Wales - 57 per cent of all those in poverty.

And Preston charity bosses said families from all backgrounds and areas of the city were turning to them for help.

Captain Dr Alex Cadogan, of Preston Salvation Army, said the food bank was receiving about 350 referrals each month, from families and individuals across the city.

He said: “We are getting a wider type of client group coming through to us from all sorts of sectors of our community, whether that’s people who work or families who are going through particular problems.

“It takes quite small changes in circumstances to tip people into it, so we do see a lot of situations where people who are not from the traditional background suddenly find themselves in extreme poverty, especially where there’s been family break down.”

He added: “We find that there’s a lot of people accessing our food bank services from all over.

“It’s not a traditional sector of society or a community - it’s a wide spread thing and the fact someone might live in Fulwood or Ingol or Deepdale, it doesn’t matter where anyone comes from.

“I think we find ourselves needing to help individuals and families who come from all sorts of backgrounds.”

The findings come just a day after it was revealed that almost one in four people in Preston were not earning the living wage.

Coun Matthew Brown, cabinet member for community engagement and inclusion, said he was unsurprised by the results, and blamed failings in the system.

He said: “It is unsurprising with the huge cost of living and I just hope people start to wake up to it.”

Coun Brown said the levels of poverty were as a result of issues such as rising costs of living, tuition fees, high rail fares and high rents combined with wages that were not increasing.

He said there was a “problem with the economic system” and said: “There’s a lot that needs to be done in my opinion and it’s really depressing - it seems like quite a brutal world.”

In reference to child care, he said: “The costs have increased there but the support you receive to pay for it through tax credits has been reduced and that could be a reason for an increase in poverty in suburban areas.

“There’s also housing costs - if you rent in suburban areas that will be a huge issue for a lot of people.”

The report by the Smith Institute showed more people per head were on benefits in the suburbs than the rest of the country. It also showed the gap in concentrations of poverty between cities and their suburban areas had narrowed.

Paul Hunter, the report’s author and head of research at the Smith Institute said: “Poverty in suburbia has been ignored for too long.

“The evidence shows that the majority of people in poverty live in our suburbs. There needs to be a much better understanding of poverty in suburbia.

“Many suburban areas have struggled with austerity and there is now a pressing case for a suburban renaissance.”