Revealed: The most deprived areas in Suffolk and North Essex ranked by postcode
- Credit: Archant
Almost 40 of the region’s neighbourhoods are among the most deprived in England – with some sitting alongside areas of great wealth.
The government's new 'indices of deprivation' figures have highlighted a stark divide throughout Suffolk and north Essex.
Although the region has low overall levels of deprivation, there are areas where poor income, education and access to housing are a major problem.
Many of the most deprived neighbourhoods are in Tendring - including Jaywick, which is the most deprived in the country - as well as Ipswich, Lowestoft and Colchester.
However, there are also pockets of deprivation in seemingly affluent areas such as Bury St Edmunds, Hadleigh and the Suffolk coast.
Stephen Singleton, chief executive of Suffolk Community Foundation (SCF), said that while regional-level data indicated favourable living standards in Suffolk, localised figures painted a different picture.
"The devil is in the detail," he added. "When you drill down, you see the affluence in Suffolk masks the true deprivation that exists."
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Showing the scale of the problem, Mr Singleton said Suffolk had a higher than average rate of working families using food banks, problems around rural isolation and even examples of children going several days without a meal.
He said education and access to housing were two of the biggest challenges in Suffolk - which the report confirms.
Ipswich, which is Suffolk's most deprived council area overall, has a particularly poor score for education - among the bottom 15% nationally.
Jack Abbott, Labour's education spokesman at Suffolk County Council, said the figures showed the Conservatives' 'Raising the Bar' initiative, which was aimed to deliver one of the best education systems in England, had failed.
"It is little wonder that the Tories first watered down their targets for Raising the Bar, before quietly removing funding completely," he added.
"It is an admission that it simply hasn't worked. It isn't a lack of ambition or talent that is restricting children from deprived backgrounds. It is the lack of equal educational opportunities and a lack of equal resources."
Suffolk County Council said helping disadvantaged pupils and closing the attainment gap was a central part of its work, particularly during early years, and it was continuing to work with schools and academies to ensure every child achieves their full potential.
IBC leader David Ellesmere said the government's austerity programme had hit towns like Ipswich hard.
"Poor people have been made poorer by cuts in benefits while many good jobs in the public sector, such as police officers, have been lost," he said, "The government has deliberately shifted money away from urban areas towards more wealthy rural parts of the country."
Mr Ellesmere said that while Ipswich performed well for income, employment and housing, it had been "dragged down" with poor crime and education scores - and called for better deployment of resources to redress that.
He said IBC was already working to reduce poverty by investing in business parks and raising wages.
In Babergh, Mid Suffolk, West Suffolk and Colchester, access to housing is the biggest deprivation factor.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk Council said it was committed to ensuring everyone in its districts "has somewhere to call home", highlighting the recent launch of its homelessness reduction strategy and its work to create an affordable housing market.
West Suffolk Council leader John Griffiths said the council was encouraging housing associations to build more social rented properties. He said the council had worked with tenants and landlords to prevent 393 households becoming homeless last year - as well as securing more temporary accommodation.
Colchester Borough Council's housing portfolio holder Adam Fox said the council planned to deliver up to 350 new affordable homes over the next five years.
In Tendring, where several neighbourhoods are in the most deprived 1% of the country, the district council is using the report to identify areas to help.
However, the council's chief executive Ian Davidson also said Tendring was a "fast growing district full of strong developing businesses", highlighted the recent Tendring4Growth Business Week and Tendring Jobs and Careers fair.
He said the council was investing in the district's £370m tourism industry and building new council properties in Jaywick Sands to support regeneration.
Essex County Council also said it was working partners to develop new initiatives in deprived communities across the county, particularly places such as Jaywick Sands and Clacton-on-Sea.
Lowestoft, which also has a high level of deprivation, hopes job creation can help.
Dan Poitras, chairman of Lowestoft Vision BID, highlighted the £500,000 funding by Historic England's High Street Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ) programme and an offshore wind farm maintenance contract.
"It won't be an overnight change but it's going to get people educated and give them something to aspire to," he said.