Action plan devised to tackle poverty in Honiton, Exmouth and Sid Valley

PUBLISHED: 16:56 21 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:17 29 August 2019

Hundreds of workers are claiming Universal Credit in North Devon and Torridge. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hundreds of workers are claiming Universal Credit in North Devon and Torridge. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Hundreds of households across Honiton, Exmouth and the Sid Valley are 'in deprivation', a district councillor has said.

Bruce de Saram, who represents the Littleham ward on East Devon District Council (EDDC), is one of several councillors backing a plan to end poverty in some of East Devon's hardest-hit areas.

The move has been headed up by Honiton district councillor Mike Allen, who has outlined two proposals for EDDC.

Cllr Allen said the council should have two basic aims - that no-one in East Devon is destitute without immediate help and no-one is in involuntary poverty for more than two years.

He said: "It is unacceptable in our modern country that people cannot afford the basics because they are too old or have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own.

"Working in a food bank woke me up to the problems people face through sudden job loss or a serious illness.

"The practical implications of poverty are that you do not have enough money for heating to keep your home warm, especially if you have a damp home.

"If you cannot afford two meals a day it gets depressing and food banks only offer certain foods.

"You may have little ability to visit hospital, friends or family. If something breaks you cannot replace or repair broken electrical goods or a car part…. and so it goes on.

"These proposals aim to break through this depressing catalogue of problems."

Ideas suggested by Cllr Allen to help fight poverty include council-arranged work placements for teenagers to help improve employment opportunities.

He said the council could reduce housing costs by offering 'better types' of employment and building low-cost housing.

Cllr de Saram, who is supporting Cllr Allen's fight against poverty, said: "The highest numbers of households in deprivation are in Exmouth Town, Exmouth Littleham, Exmouth Withycombe, Honiton St Michaels, Honiton St Pauls, Sidford and Seaton.

"Each ward has 100 or more households in deprivation - action in these seven wards would halve serious deprivation in East Devon."

EDDC's overview committee, which meets next Thursday, August 29, will debate the report that Cllr Allen has prepared.

A spokesman said it would be premature to make any comments before the councillors have had an opportunity to discuss it.

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