21 July 2007

A new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), Poverty, wealth and place in Britain 1968-2005, has looked at patterns of inequalities across Britain over those years.

The report identifies four classes of households: Core poverty households; Breadline poverty households which include the core poverty households; average households, neither poor nor wealthy; Asset wealthy households which include the exclusively wealthy households; and Exclusively wealthy households.

The poverty and wealth data from SASI for the report can be seen here; the data also enables us to see how Cornwall fares compared with other places. There are 641 parliamentary constituencies analysed for the JRF report. For example, these are the rank positions for the Cornwall constituencies in the year 2000 in terms of core poverty, where the lower the number, the worst the poverty:

St Ives 294th out of 641

Falmouth and Camborne 299th

North Cornwall 367th

Truro and St Austell 396th

South East Cornwall 403rd.

The ranks for breadline poverty are similar.

What do these figures suggest? That Cornwall is not at the bottom of the poverty league in Britain; that there are around two to three hundred constituencies which are ranked poorer. This supports the findings from other surveys which I have discussed in these posts:

Free school meals

Is Cornwall poor

Victim Cornwall

and Suffering Cornwall.

The evidence from all these surveys suggests that there is both wealth and poverty in Cornwall, these are spread unevenly around the county so that generalisations about Cornwall are of limited use, most people in Cornwall are not poor or deprived, and no part of Cornwall is the worst place for poverty and deprivation in England. However, the large economic measures of GVA and GDP for the county are well below the England and EU averages though improving, and pay for many is low but house prices are high.

The Cornwall constituencies fare noticeably well in the JRF wealthy categories because of the value of houses in Cornwall.

Incidentally, in view of the recent comments on Islington and education spending by the Libdems, note that the two Islington constituencies ranked 17th and 21st in the core poverty league, very much worse than the Cornwall constituencies.