Suffolk Community Foundation and the University of Suffolk have today (28 September 2016) released a major new report highlighting inequalities in the county.
‘Hidden Needs in Suffolk’ follows on from a report published five years ago by Cambridge University and the latest research provides an insight into long term trends.
Suffolk Community Foundation commissioned the University to undertake analysis of powerful national statistical datasets to investigate what they say about Suffolk, its districts and neighbourhoods.
It found compared with the rest of England, Suffolk is generally advantaged and, overall doesn’t experience the same deprivation as elsewhere – but there are concerning long term trends.
Key findings include:
- Since 2007, Suffolk has become less advantaged and more deprived. Things have stayed the same or got worse for the most deprived and more advantaged neighbourhoods have become less advantaged.
- Unemployment is low but, for than a decade, average wages have been lower here than in the Eastern region or England generally. 12% of the population live in income deprivation – including nearly 20,000 children
- Population growth is slowing down and getting older – much more so than elsewhere. The county is moving towards a scenario where a quarter of the population is aged 65 and older.
- Life chances for young people vary considerably. Suffolk’s still lagging beyond other counties in terms of the number of children getting 5 good GCSEs but, even taking this into account; children from disadvantaged families in Suffolk do less well in Suffolk than the same children do elsewhere in England.
- There is good news here too – Suffolk has seen sharp improvements in Early Years care and the rate of Suffolk young people progressing to university is about the same as elsewhere
Professor Noel Smith, Head of the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work at the University, said “There are some really complex findings here – they touch on a host of issues which many dedicated experts in Suffolk are working tirelessly on – so it’s important that we avoid trite and over simplistic solutions. What I hope that this research does is to inform debate and to get us to pause and reflect – to think critically about whether we have a really good, collaborative, shared long term strategy in Suffolk – one which is based on real partnership between local government, business and the community and voluntary sector.”
Stephen Singleton, Chief Executive of Suffolk Community Foundation, said “When our first Hidden Needs report was published in 2011, we anticipated that it would have a significant influence on our ability to prioritise and direct our grant making towards the most pressing needs that our communities face. We also hoped that it would present a compelling case to help us develop and channel local philanthropy towards local issues. Looking back over the past five years, it is heartening to see that those ambitions have been rewarded.”
“Against a challenging subject, the Hidden Needs report provides us all with sufficient accessible information that allows for more honest conversation, informed decision making and better leadership.”
University of Suffolk Press Office
T: 01473 338476