COMMUNITY leaders in Derbyshire have delivered a damning assessment on how the economic environment will affect the county’s poorest families.
According to Derbyshire County Council’s strategic director for children and younger adults Ian Thomas (right) and director of public health Elaine Michel, the economic climate will have most impact on low income families.
While this includes families dependent on welfare, the pair also revealed working families on low incomes are ‘increasingly struggling to make ends meet’.
They said: “There is as increasing evidence base to indicate decreasing living standards for low income families nationally and in Derbyshire.
“While unemployment figures are not rising dramatically, cost of living increases combined with low income rises and short hours are making it difficult to make ends meet.
Mr Thomas and Ms Michel, who made the revelation in a report which will go before the county council’s cabinet next week, said these groups are at risk of taking on ‘unaffordable or unmanageable debt’ from to payday lenders.
They said: “An increasing number of families are turning to payday lenders or doorstep lenders – as a routine - to bridge the gap between income and outgoings, as well as to relatives and friends.
“These new financial structures, although enticing, are receiving increasing negative attention over their assessments of who they should lend to and their often exorbitant interest rates.”
The pair also said the Government’s reforms to housing benefits and Universal Credit would add to pressures on low income families.
They said: “The economic employment model, involving restricted wage growth and reducing tax credits, is going to impact for years to come, therefore it must be assumed that there will be increasing and significant demand for debt management and restructuring advice for low income families.”
Among other finding Mr Thomas and Ms Michel made is that work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty.
As a result of the risks, the county council will attempt to reduce what it calls ‘health inequalities’ through providing a generic advice service at children’s centres in the county in partnership with Public Health.