More than 7,000 Burnley families are set to be worse off due to government changes to working tax credits – which are likely to affect 10,000 children in the borough.
Burnley’s Labour MP Julie Cooper has vowed to fight “to soften the blow” of the changes, set to be introduced by the government in April, as a new report revealed Burnley has some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country.
The area around Tay Street and Howard Street in the Trinity ward, and between Belvedere Road and Church Street, in the Bank Hall ward, were named as the 14th and 15th most deprived areas in the country in the recent study from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The Index of Multiple Deprivation report analysed 32,844 neighbourhoods across England, and looked at employment; health; income; education; housing; environment and crime.
In the same report, the local authority area of Burnley was classed as the ninth most deprived area in the country.
Mrs Cooper said: “I am really sad to see some areas of Burnley are so deprived, but I am also not surprised.
These issues result from long term trends over a number of decades. The fuller story is that Burnley is a borough which is proactive in tackling these issues and working for future prosperityBurnley Council
“Worryingly, this all comes before the impact of cuts to working tax credits comes in next year.
“The Labour Party knows the government will not change its mind on this legislation but we have proposed more than 70 amendments to try to soften the blow.
“This will affect 7,200 families in Burnley, including 10,100 children. I think it is appalling that families who are working, in very low-paid jobs, are being punished this way.”
More than three million low-paid workers will be told just before Christmas how much they will lose from the changes to tax credits.
Mrs Cooper added: “I know Burnley Borough Council is doing all it can in a very difficult environment to secure more funding for the area.
“My job is to put pressure on the government and these deprivation statistics are ammunition I can use.”
Burnley has regressed in terms of deprivation since the last report was released five years ago. In 2010, it was ranked as the 12th most deprived.
This data is related to local authorities with the highest proportion of their neighbourhoods in the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods nationally.
But Burnley Council said there was also much to be positive about.
A council spokesman said: “The council is well aware of the major challenges and issues we face in terms of deprivation.
“These issues result from long term trends over a number of decades. The fuller story is that Burnley is a borough which is proactive in tackling these issues and working for future prosperity.”
• Burnley is currently in the top 10 in UK for private sector jobs growth. It had the highest increase in Lancashire last year. Numbers were up 7.2% compared to 3.2% in Lancashire, 4.3% in the North-West and 5.1% nationally.
Job numbers in manufacturing are also above county and national figures – reinforcing Burnley’s reputation as a centre for advanced manufacturing expertise.
• There has been significant public and private sector investment in new employment sites – Innovation Drive, Burnley Bridge, and the Knowledge Quarter – with firms moving in and expanding.
• The Estates Gazette recently cited Burnley as a town with everything that it takes to prosper. Burnley was seen as among the “top five to thrive” in the North-West, and Experian agreed, naming Burnley as best in Lancashire for growth prospects
• Last month’s Royal Society of Arts survey placed Burnley 33rd out of 329 cities and towns across the UK for making the most of its heritage, arts and culture and countryside to increase visitor numbers.
The spokesman added: “Many of the measurements in the deprivation index are social issues such as poor health, crime and housing. We will continue to work closely with other agencies including the police, the NHS and Lancashire County Council to tackle these issues.
“Our work in all these areas will continue, and will lead to increasing economic and employment opportunities for local people going forward.”