Pover­tyshock

Stats high­light Ruther­glen con­stituency

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Jonathan Ged­des

Shock fig­ures have re­vealed com­mu­ni­ties in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang are among the most af­fected by in-work poverty in the whole of the UK.

The Joseph Rown­tree Foun­da­tion re­leased in­for­ma­tion on work­ing-age poverty, look­ing at each area by par­lia­men­tary con­stituency.

Shock fig­ures have re­vealed com­mu­ni­ties in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang are among the most af­fected by in-work poverty in the whole of the UK.

And the man­ager of Cam­bus­lang and Ruther­glen’s Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau has now cau­tioned that the sit­u­a­tion could get even worse if lo­cals are un­pre­pared for ben­e­fits changes later this year.

Sharon Hamp­son’s warn­ing comes as new data from a lead­ing so­cial pol­icy char­ity shone the spot­light on Ruther­glen’s strug­gles with poverty.

The Joseph Rown­tree Foun­da­tion re­leased in­for­ma­tion on workingage poverty across Great Bri­tain, look­ing at each area by par­lia­men­tary con­stituency.

Ruther­glen and Hamil­ton West fin­ished in the top half for ev­ery cri­te­ria that was ex­am­ined, in­clud­ing as high as 71st for those re­quir­ing out of work ben­e­fits, out of a to­tal of 650 con­stituen­cies.

The area was 142nd in the over­all poverty risk in­dex, 231st for work tax cred­its, 147th for those in the area with low or no qual­i­fi­ca­tions and 232nd for those with low pay.

Sharon told the Re­former that the fig­ures ac­cu­rately high­lights is­sues she sees on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

She said: “Our num­ber of clients has risen by about 1,500 from last year to this year. We have over 10,500 clients in to­tal and the biggest num­ber of that is to do with ben­e­fits – about 43 per cent come in to see us about that.

“It’s a big dif­fer­ence over a year, and all our stats have gone up. Nearly 2,000 clients have come in about debt is­sues com­pared to 1300 the pre­vi­ous year, and nearly 800 of them are new clients.

“It’s in ev­ery cat­e­gory, from hous­ing to wel­fare prod­ucts. We had to re­fer around 180 peo­ple to food banks, which is a lot.

“We’re get­ting more peo­ple com­ing here who have jobs, too, but can’t pay the bills. These are work­ing class peo­ple on good salaries who are still hav­ing prob­lems. The cost of liv­ing has gone up by about 2.8 per­cent but the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple aren’t get­ting wage rises, or if they are it is only one per­cent.

“There’s a mix­ture of a lot of things and it is all adding up across the area.”

Sharon be­lieves that the on­go­ing roll­out of Univer­sal Credit, which is re­plac­ing sev­eral means-tested ben­e­fits and tax cred­its, is caus­ing fur­ther prob­lems.

She said: “Things could get a lot, lot worse with the new Univer­sal Credit that comes in.

“It is go­ing to af­fect a lot of peo­ple and I don’t think ev­ery­one in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang is go­ing to be pre­pared for that. The in­crease we are see­ing in peo­ple look­ing for ben­e­fits ad­vice is partly down to this.”

The fig­ures by the Joseph Rown­tree Foun­da­tion showed Ruther­glen and Hamil­ton West were con­sis­tently higher than other ar­eas through­out South La­nark­shire.

For ex­am­ple, East Kil­bride, Strathaven and Les­ma­hagow was rated 257th for out of work ben­e­fits and 351st over­all.

La­nark and Hamil­ton East was rated 124th for ben­e­fits and 252nd in the poverty risk in­dex.

To find out the fig­ures for the Work­ing Age Poverty Risk In­dex, the foun­da­tion com­bined the re­ceipt of out-of-work and in-work ben­e­fits to gen­er­ate a poverty risk score for each par­lia­men­tary con­stituency in Great Bri­tain.

We’re get­ting more peo­ple who have jobs but can’t pay the bills

Con­cern­sSharon Hamp­son re­mains con­cerned about the im­pact of wel­fare re­form For­got­ten ar­easPlaces like Spring­hall suf­fer from poverty

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