TWENTY-TWO of Basildon’s estates are among the poorest in the country, new Government figures reveal.
The borough’s opposition Labour group has said the Government numbers show the ruling administration need to take urgent action.
The figures also show about one quarter of children in the town live in poverty.
Of the 110 estates in the borough, Felmores, in Pitsea is ranked as the poorest, followed by Five Links in Laindon, and the part of Fryerns that snakes around Broadmayne and Upper Mayne, according to new Government figures.
Labour has called for two initiatives to tackle the issue including spending £20,000 to set up a Fairness Commission- which would examine ways in which the council can tackle the problem. The party also wants to see a child poverty action group set up, which would ensure all council policies did not affect already poverty stricken households.
Byron Taylor, deputy leader of the party’s group on the council, will table a motion at next month’s full council meeting calling for the measures.
He claims more than 3,000 residents who are in work still receive housing benefit because employers pay such lowwages.
He said: “It’s outrageous the council is spending £100,000 on free parking in Billericay and Wickford yet we are home to some of the most deprived areas in the country.
“Yet north of the A127 has some of the wealthiest areas. It sticks in my mind when we’re told that we’re all in this together.”
A proposed child poverty group – made up of community leaders, churchgoers, and important individuals – would send reports to MPs and councils on the impact cuts to services such as children’s centres, and changes in council tax could have on households.
Figures from the campaign group End Child Poverty show in 2012, Basildon was home to more child poverty than northern towns such as Bolton, Barnsley, Wigan, and Doncaster.
Labour’s candidate for John Baron’s Billericay and Basildon seat, Gavin Callaghan, added: “The real tragedy here is that this is not the feckless unemployed. These are households that are in work but yet are still classed as in poverty.
“Yet the council never does a risk assessment on people’s lives when they push through its policy – it’s always about money.”
Plans to invest £20,000 into setting up a Fairness Commission were turned down at a full council meeting last Thursday.