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A tale of two cities revealed: The hidden deprivation in Norwich

Norwich Foodbank has highlighted deprivation in the city. Foodbank co-ordinator Grant Habershon and methodist minister Rev Sharon Willimott at Mile Cross Methodist church on Aylsham Road.

Norwich Foodbank has highlighted deprivation in the city. Foodbank co-ordinator Grant Habershon and methodist minister Rev Sharon Willimott at Mile Cross Methodist church on Aylsham Road.

EDP pics © 2010

Dramatic inequalities in health, employment, financial stability and even life expectancy have been revealed in Norwich.

In the city’s least-affluent areas, four in 10 children live in poverty; men die 10 years before those in the most affluent; and unemployment is three times higher than elsewhere in the city.

Now councillors will set about redressing the balance and ensure a brighter future for people living in Norwich’s most disadvantaged parts.

A report due to go before councillors on Thursday shows the difference in prospects between the city’s most and least affluent wards, and reveals:

Four in 10 children live in poverty in Norwich’s most deprived parts;

Men in the least affluent wards die 10 years before those in the most affluent;

The more than three-fold increase in unemployment rates between wards.

The report also shows full-time earnings in Norwich are a sixth lower – and falling faster – than the regional average, support services are under greater pressure than ever, with many at full capacity, and the city is “significantly” worse off than the rest of the county in key indicators.

It identifies the most vulnerable people as the young, single parents, the disabled, the elderly and those on benefits.

The report was commissioned by Norwich City Council’s scrutiny committee following a presentation in September from the Norwich Foodbank, which expects to feed 5,000 people in need this year.

It draws the connection between deprivation and health inequalities, concluding that Norwich fares “significantly worse” than England and the rest of Norfolk in relation to deprivation, the proportion of children in poverty and GCSEs achieved. It has more violent crime and long-term unemployment, fewer physically active children and adults, more teenage pregnancy and more hospital stays for self-harm, drug misuse and more early deaths as a result of cancer.

The report highlights the image of Norwich as a “dynamic, contemporary city” with a prestigious university and teaching hospital, world-class research park and skilled workforce, but says that, nevertheless, it is “the second most deprived local authority area in the east of England”.

It adds: “A range of data reveals the different levels of need across the city, with Mile Cross, Mancroft and Catton Grove wards showing the greatest level of need but with significant issues also present in Sewell, Thorpe Hamlet, Crome, Wensum and Bowthorpe.”

Claire Stephenson, chairman of the scrutiny committee, said the findings demanded action.

“The report shows the challenges for the council, and we need to deal with them. There is a lot of work to be done.

“High unemployment and benefits being reduced are going to make the problem more difficult and put more pressure on the council as well.”

Ms Stephenson acknowledged the divide between fortunes in areas of the city had been known “for years” and said the council had not managed to bridge the gap.

“There has not been any great improvement: things have not changed much,” she said.

“The council needs to accept responsibility for some of that situation and put in place measures which will make a difference.”

For more on this story see today’s paper.

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