East Lancashire residents £2,000 worse off than rest of North West, leading Equality Trust to call UK a "highly unequal society"

The executive director of the Equality Trust has said that "we are a highly unequal society."The executive director of the Equality Trust has said that "we are a highly unequal society."
The executive director of the Equality Trust has said that "we are a highly unequal society."
East Lancashire households have £2,000 less spending money than the average for the North West, figures show.

Social equality charity the Equality Trust called for action to address a "dangerously extreme" wealth gap, after Office for National Statistics data revealed a nearly £48,000 gap between the UK's richest and poorest areas.

The average person in East Lancashire had £14,940 left over after tax in 2017, the most recent data available – down 0.2% from the previous year. This is lower than the £16,861 average disposable income per head across the North West.

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Dr Wanda Wyporska, executive director of the Equality Trust, said: "We are a highly unequal society, with dangerously extreme gaps in wealth and income between rich and poor in all areas and between the regions.

"We see vulnerable people and low-income families in particular struggling to make ends meet, as their lives become more precarious each day and many are forced to turn to food banks or are made homeless," Dr Wyporska added. "It's clear that we need political will to tackle this scandal and introduce a range of policies that will redress the balance, put more money in people's pockets and stop the tragic and preventable rise in child poverty."

According to the figures, the UK's total gross disposable household income was £1,289 billion in 2017, 1.6% higher than the previous year. The only region where disposable household income fell between 2016 and 2017 was Yorkshire and the Humber, where it dipped by just 0.2%.

Nottingham has the UK's lowest spending money per head, at £12,445. That's nearly five times smaller than Kensington and Chelsea, and Hammersmith and Fulham (£60,343).

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Matthew Geer, campaigns manager at Turn2us, a charity helping people in financial hardship, said: "The inequalities shown in these figures highlight how different people's financial circumstances can be depending on their postcode.

"This can have a huge impact on the day to day lives of families and vulnerable adults, from struggling to cover simple costs like utilities or putting food on the table, all the way through to not being able to handle unexpected costs caused by a broken appliance, a school trip or a relationship breakdown," he added. "Current policy does not adequately meet the needs of those who most need it. We need to see an increase to wages and in benefits to stop people having such fragile financial stability."

A spokesman for the Treasury said the figures did not account for regional differences in living and housing costs, saying: "Unemployment has fallen in all regions and nations since 2010. We're investing more than £12 billion into regions across England via the Local Growth Fund, with the majority of funding going to areas outside London.

"This year we've cut taxes for over 30 million people, increased the National Living Wage again and frozen fuel duty for the ninth year in a row," they added.