Hastings fairs particularly badly in The Indices of Deprivation 2019 that have just been published.
In seven of the 11 identified areas, problems in Hastings have got worse.
The figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government are produced to show how deprived local areas are, in comparison to other parts of England.
Hastings had been the 20th most deprived area but these new figures show that things have worsened and Hastings now ranks 13th. The statistics are based on combining data on employment, low incomes, education, health, crime, living environment, and barriers to housing and services.
Hastings’ ranking of 13th most deprived local council area is out of 317 areas in England. These figures show that Hastings is the most deprived local council area in the South East of England by far.
Looking at parts of the town in detail, Hastings has been split into 53 local neighbourhoods and 16 of these neighbourhoods are among the most deprived ten per cent in the whole of England – which is no change from the data produced in 2015.
Parts of Baird ward and Tressell ward in North East Hastings are in the most deprived one per cent in the country, closely followed by parts of Castle ward, Central St Leonards ward and Hollington ward. Part of Conquest ward is the least deprived neighbourhood in the town.
Comparing Hastings to other council areas in East Sussex shows that Eastbourne is ranked 106th, Rother 135th, Lewes is 194th, and Wealden is ranked 254th out of 317 local council areas in England.
These new figures put Hastings on a par with some of the worst-hit areas of Britain, mainly in the former industrial heartlands including Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Manchester. Of coastal towns, Hastings is not doing much better than Blackpool.
Peter Chowney, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings & Rye says: More than a third of children in Hastings are officially living in poverty – in some parts of the borough, this rises to more than two thirds. Accompanying these high levels of poverty are associated problems of alcohol and drug dependency, poor health, and short life expectancy.
“The introduction of universal credit, with its early roll-out in Hastings, has been a catastrophe,” he claims, “benefit sanctions have led to extreme hardship and increased levels of homelessness.
“But it’s not just those who are out of work who suffer. Those on minimum-wage jobs, often on zero-hours contracts, find it increasingly hard to make ends meet.”
And he says it’s now down to councils and charitable organisations to pick up the pieces where they can: “The use food banks has increased massively,” he says.
“The current government has sought to use the benefits system as a way to punish people for being poor. We need to change that and make sure that benefits payments are timely and adequate for people’s needs, helping them find fulfilling jobs, not forcing them to focus solely on how they’re going to find the next meal for their children.”
Nick Perry the Liberal Democrats parliamentary candidate for Hastings & Rye says he fears a so-called no-deal Brexit would make matters even worse and would hit the most disadvantaged in the community hardest.