A seaside village has been named the most deprived neighbourhood in England for the third time in a row.
Jaywick, a former holiday resort situated on the Essex coastline, has ended up in the position because of how it fares across "multiple indices of deprivation” identified by the government.
In Jaywick – which was visited by the UN’s special rapporteur for extreme poverty last year – 57% of people are living with “income deprivation”, for example, meaning they are either not earning any money or earn so little they need benefits to support them.
The UN's envoy Philip Alston said at the time of his visit that poverty in the UK was systemic and meant the poorest were leading lives that are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
The government’s latest report, published on Sept. 26, attempts to track poverty in England (not the rest of the UK) based on research done periodically by the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government. The last report was published in 2015.
As well as income, the other indices of deprivation studied are: employment levels; education and health outcomes; barriers to housing and services; crime; and the living environment.
Officials rank 32,844 neighbourhoods in total, splitting them up into small neighbourhood areas with an average of 1,500 people living in them.
It shows that some areas of the country are really struggling on multiple fronts.
Blackpool, a town of 140,000 people on the north west coast of England, saw no fewer than eight of its neighborhoods listed among the “10 most deprived”. Those eight were followed by the area of Anfield in Liverpool, deemed the 10th most deprived area in the country.
The different indices are designed to show how poverty can be experienced not just as a lack of income but a lack of other resources too, such as quality education.
Britain might be a very wealthy country – it’s the fifth largest economy in the world according to GDP rankings – but, as this research shows, its wealth is not at all evenly spread.
The towns and villages that have been marked out as the most deprived in these statistics are largely in areas on the coast or in former industrial heartlands that haven’t seen investment for decades.
For example, the 10 city councils that contain the highest proportion of neighbourhoods from the bottom 10% of the deprivation charts are all in the north of England, except one. They are: Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Knowsley, Hull, Manchester, Blackpool, Birmingham, Burnley, Blackburn, and Hartlepool.
A few impoverished neighbourhoods are found in the wealthy capital though too: the two London boroughs of Hackney and Barking and Dagenham are listed as places with among the highest average levels of deprivation compared with the rest of the country.
The borough of Tower Hamlets was once also among the most deprived in the country, but it has seen its rank vastly improve compared to the 2015 report. That is largely thought to be because the average has been brought up by “wealthy newcomers” moving to new flats in east London, experts told the Guardian, rather than a big reduction in the poverty people were experiencing four years ago.
However you analyse the data, the report shows that you really can expect vastly different life experiences and outcomes depending on where in England you live – and that can be true in a big city or a rural village.
Back in Jaywick, residents aren't happy with the poverty label – especially since their little town has been in the news a lot recently. Last year, a Republican politican in the US, Dr. Nick Stella, used an old photo of one of Jaywick's streets as part of a mid-term campaign warning voters that's what his area would become under his opponent.
It showed a rundown street that had no paving stones or tarmac, but the street has since been refurbished.
Meanwhile Channel 5 documentary Benefits by the Sea, filmed in Jaywick,has been labelled "poverty porn" by locals and former locals, and criticised for unfairly representing residents.
In Blackpool, among several other issues, attainment at school is well below the national average.
Ivan Taylor, a local politician in Blackpool told local news that the issues contributing to its low scores were to do with bad housing, transience, and benefit cuts.
He said: “We have got a lot of deprivation in this area, as everyone knows, and it is distressing and worrying to find ourselves in this situation."
"We have a high transient population and it is among these people that we see some of the worst effects of deprivation," he continued. "We need to improve the quality of accommodation as housing is an important factor, and the council is trying to regenerate the area.”
He called for more central government funding targeted to solve specific problems in the area.