1. Introduction and context
East Devon is a prosperous area for many. It has a strong economy, driven by a combination of small businesses, agriculture, tourism, the service sector, and a significant cluster of hi-tech and bio-technology businesses.
However, despite the continuing growth of the East Devon economy, we have identified pockets of poverty, using measures which takes into account data on wages, pensions, benefits and other income. While some jobs in the district command very high salaries, there are a significant proportion of households in the area living on low incomes, or in poverty.
The incidence of poverty is unbelievably high for the 2020’s and a sad reflection of the failure of social policy and societies priorities. The Covid-19 pandemic is making matters worse for many. Poverty is a serious equalities issue for modern society. This is evident internationally, nationally and locally. We live in an inequitably society with vast differences between those that are ‘well off’ and those who have insufficient to meet their basic needs.
We are seeing increased levels of debt with many households taking on debt to make ends meet, leading to problems in prioritising debts and incurring high interest on debts. This has been combined with an increase in food bank usage.
There are important safeguarding links with poverty and the impact on vulnerable households needs careful consideration and intervention.
Poverty is defined in different ways including not having enough possessions or income for a person’s needs; the condition of being extremely poor; a person or community that lacks the financial resources and essentials for a minimum standard of living; household income below 60% of the average.
Through national studies six types of poverty have been recognised – situational; generational; absolute; relative; urban; and rural.
Poverty has been defined simply as not having enough possessions or income for a person’s needs; the condition of being extremely poor; a person or community that lacks the financial resources and essentials for a minimum standard of living; and where a household income is below 60% of the average.
The Joseph Rowntree Trust list poverty in three levels:
- Income at minimum income standard or better: able to afford a decent standard of living
- Income below minimum income standard: getting by day-to-day but under pressure, difficult to manage unexpected costs and events
- Not enough income: falling substantially short of a decent standard of living, high chance of not meeting needs
- Destitute: can't afford to eat, keep clean and stay warm and dry
For more information about what poverty is and how it is measured see the Joseph Rowntree Trust, what is poverty information page.