Monday, 4 July 2011

Letter in Shropshire Star: Dismayed by figures on child poverty

Dismayed by figures on child poverty

Like Councillor Davies (21/06), I am dismayed by the child poverty figures produced by the "End Child Poverty" campaign.

In my ward (Brookside) the figures show that 38% of children are living in poverty.

I disagree to some extent with the methodology the group uses. Poverty is defined by the group as a household income of 60% less than UK middle income of almost £26,000 but an average middle income in Telford is around £19,000.  Rent/mortgage payments are taken off household income even though most households with an income of just £10,000 would receive housing benefit.  The figures are also "adjusted" in an unspecified way as the only available data is 3 years old.

That doesn't mean the figures don't have any value - they may not be an accurate measure of poverty in Telford & Wrekin but they are a useful indicator of relative poverty in the borough and the fact that Brookside is in the top 5 most deprived wards in Telford & Wrekin only makes the borough council's refusal to press ahead with much-needed generation on our estate all the more indefinsible.

The best way to tackle poverty is not with handouts but with jobs and support.  Brookside desperately needs some serious investment to create jobs and provide support to people who want to get off benefits and start working.

With the latest announcement of funding from the borough council, Woodside will have had £70m spent on regeneration whilst Brookside has had nothing - in fact, £2m of the £4m set aside for regeneration for Brookside was pillaged by the previous administration to pay for regeneration in Sutton Hill!

The owners of the businesses in the Brookside local centre have done their best to make the precinct more appealing to residents but with an open-ended promise of regeneration they aren't going to make any serious investment when the whole thing could be knocked down within a couple of years.  We need a commitment to regeneration from the borough council with timelines so the residents of Brookside can hold the council to account if it doesn't happen and so that those people that want to invest in Brookside can make plans for the future.

Cllr Stuart Parr (UKIP)
Brookside