Number of poor areas is falling

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THE number of poverty-stricken areas in Wigan has fallen thanks to the council’s attempts to tackle the plight of recession-hit families.

But figures still show that 26 borough neighbourhoods fall into the top 10 per cent most deprived in the country.

The localities - known as Lower Layer Super Output Areas - are: Beech Hill West; Chapel Fields Estate North; Darlington Street East; Hag Fold East, North, South and West; Higher Folds North and South; Higher Ince; Marsh Green East and West; Norley East; Plank Lane/Crankwood; Platt Bridge North-East; Scholes and Scholes/Birkett Bank; Shakerley; Siddow Common; Smithwood; Wentworth; Westleigh East; Woodcock Drive Estate; Worsley Hall and Worsley Hall North and Worsley Mesnes North.

The 2010 figures - the latest available - were drawn up using factors including unemployment levels, access to services, crime, health and education.

And they show that since 2004 the number of neighbourhoods in that bottom 10 per cent has at least fallen from 32 after the council targeted resources at the most impoverished areas.

Since the last data count, the council has worked to fund more school dinners, source extra social housing and engage the community through the opening of the Life Centre.

Deputy Leader Coun David Molyneux said: “Wigan Council is firmly committed to helping address issues like health inequalities, crime, education and deprivation, which impact on the lives of local people.

“Fewer communities in our borough are now featuring in the 10 per cent most deprived areas nationally. This is testament to the hard work being invested on the ground as well as to the success of a wide range of proactive multi-agency initiatives.

“There are many ways in which we can see clear evidence of significant improvements to the lives of local people who live in what are often caricatured as ‘hard-to-reach’ communities. For instance, more children are gaining higher grades in their GCSEs in English and maths than ever before in these areas.

“Free school dinner uptake is on the rise while the number of road traffic accidents involving children is down.

“There are more apprentice schemes available to young people now and incidents of anti-social behaviour have significantly reduced over the past decade. The quality of social housing, as measured by government, is at its highest ever level and more people are getting a chance to own their home than ever before.

“These communities are benefitting from investment such as the local Life Centres, which are providing a range of services under one roof and acting as a vital community hub.

“We still have a long way to go and there are significant challenges ahead, not least in managing the demand on local services that communities rely on when our budgets are stretched more than ever. However, working with partners, the council will continue to target resources where they are needed most.”