Residents in large parts of Shrewsbury are living in high levels of deprivation, a new health report revealed – with fears the situation may grow even worse.
Significant areas of Harlescott, Ditherington and Castlefields, Monkmoor, Sundorne, Bagley, Column and Belle Vue score the highest possible rating on the latest health inequalities map. It says 7,000 children in Shropshire are living in poverty and that men’s life expectancy is six and a half years shorter than in better off areas.
The information comes in the 2012 Health Profile for Shropshire which has been published by the Network of Public Health Observatories, part of the Department of Health.
It reveals countywide that there are now 7,802 people suffering deprivation compared to 5,751 last year – a rise of 36.5 per cent.
But the county deprivation figures still remain below the national average.
According to the latest health inequality map, parts of Porthill, Copthorne and Meole Brace are considered the least deprived in Shrewsbury.
But Shrewsbury community leaders said a worrying pattern was emerging which was being exacerbated by high unemployment and reductions in benefits.
Shropshire councillor for Ditherington and Castlefields, Alan Mosley, said: “The least affluent areas have got significantly poorer records regarding public health and with continuing high levels of unemployment and a reduction in certain benefit entitlements this situation is likely to get worse. There are improvements being made but this report obviously shows that economic policies are resulting in significant health inequalities throughout the town – and in other parts of Shropshire.”
He added: “The cutting back on public services, the reduction of jobs and the difficulty that many people in my ward are finding with benefits is undoubtedly having a massive impact.”
But despite the rise in deprivation, the proportion of children living in poverty has dropped by six per cent.
The report uses 38 separate factors to determine the levels of deprivation. These include income, employment, health and disability, education and training, barriers to housing, living environment and crime.
It states: “The health of people in Shropshire is generally better than the England average. About 7,000 children live in poverty. Life expectancy is 6.7 years lower for men and 4.3 years lower for women in the most deprived areas of Shropshire than in the least deprived areas.”