Community Links life president Kevin Jenkins feels deprivation index is misleading


- Credit: Archant

The latest 2015 index of deprivation figures indicate that Newham has risen 23 places from the second most deprived authority to 25th – a remarkable improvement over a five-year period.

While such improvement must be welcomed, it should be with some hesitation and certainly not used in isolation from other more specific poverty indicators, by the council and health authorities in their future planning and spending plans.

The data underpinning the 2015 figures is somewhat dated, being collected between 2011 and 2013, which was the period when Newham was experiencing the Olympics factor at its peak.

Unemployment figures during the same period continued to confirm that Newham has the third highest level of unemployment after Barking and Dagenham and Tower Hamlets – despite all the investment of resources and time by successive governments and councils to reduce unemployment rates.

Newham’s rate continues to be around eight per cent. Of course such figures only include those that register. There has been a long tradition in Newham of significant numbers who do not register and as a result it has always been difficult to get a truly accurate picture.

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There is growing concern, with increasing justification, that any improvements in Newham’s socio-economic indicators are due to gentrification of the area as newcomers move into the new housing along Newham’s arc of opportunity rather than Newham residents accessing new employment and having opportunities.

There is an increasing risk that once again the fruits of Newham’s regeneration opportunities over the next 10-15 years will fail to engage considerable numbers of long term residents.

All those in power or with responsibilities need to think again and work together from a shared and agreed factual base if Newham residents are to benefit from the much heralded Olympic legacy. More from Kevin

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