Date issued: 13 December 2019
Latest figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) reveal Colchester now has fewer deprivation hotspots than it did in 2015, when comparable data was last published.
Figures show that, overall, Colchester is now ranked the fifth most deprived district in Essex, out of 12, having previously ranked fourth.
The Indices of Deprivation measure relative levels of deprivation in 32,844 small areas or neighbourhoods nationally – called Lower-layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) with an average of approximately 1,500 residents or 650 households each – and focus on seven main forms of deprivation: Income; Employment; Education; Health; Crime; Barriers to Housing and Services, and the Living Environment. There are 105 LSOAs in the borough.
The DCLG Indices of Deprivation 2019 report, released in September, suggests ongoing work to support some of the most vulnerable and marginalised residents in some of the most deprived areas of the borough is continuing to make a real difference and improve lives.
Recently, Colchester Borough Council’s Cabinet agreed to continue to fund its Local Council Tax Support scheme – one of the most generous in Essex – which this year has helped 9,000 residents reduce their council tax bill and provided around £8.5m of support.
In the past year alone, more than 50 homeless households have been found temporary or permanent homes, as part of the council’s commitment to reduce homelessness in the borough. This success has helped set the foundations for the council’s ambitious plans to deliver up to 350 new affordable homes over the next five years.
In October, Cabinet members heard progress on a range of projects supporting the multi-agency work of the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance to overcome barriers preventing some of the most vulnerable and marginalised residents from enjoying a healthier and more fulfilling life. Much of this work is set to roll out over the coming year and continue beyond.
In late November, community groups that provide valuable services to support the borough’s residents were invited to bid for a share of the council’s £190k Voluntary Welfare Grant. The fund aims to bolster projects or services that strengthen communities, reduce social isolation and loneliness, safeguard the vulnerable with better support and help enhance community safety.
Other council-backed initiatives supporting vulnerable residents include the Monkwick Munch Club, which helps combat hunger during school holidays by providing a free hot lunch to all children and their families who currently receive free school dinners or are on a low income, and CAFE, which is helping to tackle loneliness and social isolation.
Looking ahead – a major feasibility study is currently underway to improve support for younger residents and help curtail antisocial behaviour and crime.
Cllr Mike Lilley, Portfolio Holder for Communities, Wellbeing and Public Safety, said: “While these latest figures do appear encouraging, we recognise there is still more to be done.
“Our borough continues to be one of the fastest-growing places in the UK, which does make tackling deprivation an ongoing challenge due to an increasing demand for services. However, we remain fully committed to pursuing the kinds of systemic changes we know are necessary to support the most vulnerable members of our community, boost health and wellbeing, and which help to build thriving, cohesive communities.”
Colchester now has one LSOA – Magnolia, in Greenstead – the most deprived in Colchester – in the 10% most deprived nationally. In 2015, it had four LSOAs in the top 10: Magnolia, Barnhall, Salary Brook South and St Anne’s Estate.
And it now has 27 LSOAs in the top 40% most deprived in England, compared to 32 in 2015, but also 24 LSOAs in the 20% least deprived in England, compared to 22 in 2015 – meaning two extra LSOAs have become less deprived.