Inequality gap in North Somerset labelled ‘stark’ by councillor

Councillors Donald Davies (left) and Tom Leimdorfer (centre) have criticised North Somerset's inequa

Councillors Donald Davies (left) and Tom Leimdorfer (centre) have criticised North Somerset's inequality gap. - Credit: Archant

North Somerset has the third largest inequality gap out of all the 326 authorities in England.

Pill ward councillor Don Davies proposed a motion at North Somerset’s full council meeting at the end of July to address inequality and introduce measures to improve outcomes for people across the region.

Cllr Davies wanted the authority to revise its corporate plan to improve outcomes in areas such as health, child poverty, social and affordable housing for rent and public transport provision, but his motion was rejected.

The Times reported in February more than 2,500 children are living below the poverty line, which equates to 15 per cent of youngsters in the area.

Congresbury and Pill are the two council wards in the Times’ patch with the highest levels of deprivation, with one in five children gripped by a ‘poverty crisis’ according to the End Child Poverty coalition.

MORE: More than 2,500 children living below poverty line with freeze on benefits blamed.

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A poverty hearing initiated by Equality North Somerset took place in July and was attended by support agencies.

The group has a long-term aim of reducing economic and social inequality by tackling the problems which cause poverty.

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Only 150 affordable homes were built last year in the district, which falls way below the Strategic Housing Market Assessment requirement of an average of 240 per year. The council is required to build 4,800 affordable homes between 2016–36.

According to Cllr Davies, more than two thirds of voters are concerned about inequality.

He said: “North Somerset Council has many things to be proud of but this is certainly not one of them.

“Levels of social isolation among older people have increased while there are also serious questions to be asked around our health care and public transport provision.

“The difference between people at the top and those at the bottom is stark.”

Congresbury Cllr Tom Leimdorfer supported the motion.

He said: “This is a problem which affects everybody.

“This council has created a situation where the poorest members of society have had the greatest percentage increase in council tax in recent years.”

Cllr David Shopland added: “There is great social inequality across North Somerset and we have to do something about it.”

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