Deprivation and lowest average wages concern
4:30pm Tuesday 15th January 2013 in Local
DEPRIVATION in Bolton has risen more than anywhere else in Greater Manchester.
The town also has the lowest average wages compared to elsewhere in Greater Manchester.
A study published today by the Greater Manchester Poverty Commission has revealed 92 per cent of areas in the borough saw an increase in deprivation between 2007 and 2010.
In Bury 85 per cent of its areas showed a rise in deprivation, and in Trafford the figure was 30 per cent.
But in Wigan deprivation had increased by just eight per cent.
Central Bolton was also singled out as one of six “severely deprived” areas with Central and Falinge in Rochdale, Harpurhey in Manchester, Balderstone in Rochdale, Langworthy in Salford, and Coldhurst in Oldham.
It revealed Bolton was the 48th most deprived area nationally.
The town also had the fourth highest percentage of people in Greater Manchester on incapacity benefit and employment support allowance, with 15,380 claimants — 9.1 per cent of the population — while total unemployment was the sixth highest in the sub-region with 8,440 claimants.
The borough also had the lowest hourly wage in Greater Manchester with workers paid an average of £9.48-an-hour, with 15 per cent of people — and 49 per cent of part time workers — earning below what is deemed the “living wage” of £7.45-an-hour, the joint worst figure along with Manchester.
A total of 17 per cent of children in Bolton are living in poverty, with Farnworth having the highest rates at 36 per cent, and Bromley Cross the lowest at five per cent.
Farnworth councillor Noel Spencer, who is also life president of Bolton at Home, said the social landlord was doing its best to tackle poverty issues through its UCAN centres with employment support and advice on energy saving.
He said: “The figures aren’t a total surprise and Farnworth, like a number of areas in Bolton, are among the most deprived wards in the country, and Greater Manchester as a whole is also one of the most deprived areas.
“Deprivation, especially among children, is a real concern.” The commission spent 12 months researching the report, carrying out interviews and compiling statistics from organisations including Bolton Council, Bolton at Home and Bolton Citizens Advice Bureau.
The report revealed 600,000 people across Greater Manchester are living in poverty, which is 20 per cent of the population.
It identified low pay, debt, high fuel prices, lack of access to public transport and poor health as the causes.
The commission called for the introduction of social enterprises in the banking, food and energy sectors and asked councils to set up their own energy provider companies, credit unions and bulk food purchase supermarkets and foodbanks.
It also asked the government to address poverty and called on the private and public sectors to promote the adoption of a Living Wage, as opposed to a minimum wage, to raise standards of living.
Alex Malone, project manager at Farnworth and Kearsley Foodbank, said: “I don’t think organisations like ours are the answer in the long-term, we can service the immediate need but you need proper agencies.
“Even in the month we’ve been opened we’ve seen the extent of the problem. It’s not just people without jobs who are coming in but people on low pay.
“I think these problems have been there a while and it’s not just the recession, but I think they’re being noticed more now because they’re affecting the people who wouldn’t normally have been affected. And I think it’s going to get worse.”
A council spokesman said: “We recognise the issues raised in the report and welcome its recommendations.
“We also note the presence of the Chief Executive of Bolton at Home as one of the report’s commissioners who is well placed to understand the difficulties which affect Bolton.
“We have only recently received the report and therefore will be looking at these recommendations in detail to see how we can best respond.
“As the report highlights, Bolton is one of a number of areas across Greater Manchester which is experiencing the effects of the hard economic times we live in.”
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