Home ... Herne Bay ... Regeneration challenge of ‘most deprived’ ward

Regeneration challenge of ‘most deprived’ ward

The town centre as seen from Herne Bay clocktower - the most deprived ward in the district, according to CAB
The town centre as seen from Herne Bay clocktower – the most deprived ward in the district, according to CAB

Herne Bay town centre has been described as the most deprived ward in the district, with nearly twice as many referrals to the Citizens Advice Bureau as anywhere else across Canterbury. The charity helped 1,109 peopie in need in Heron Ward last year, compared to just 573 in Westgate in Canterbury, revealing the scale of the challenge to regenerate the town. And in this quarter the number of people struggling with debt, benefits claims and employment advice stands at 285, way ahead of Northgate, which brought 196 cases to the CAB. Bureau district manager Simone Field says the ward has the highest level of deprivation and poverty in the district. She added:

“The greatest number of our clients has been in Heron Ward for a number of years. It can be for people having problems with debt, or with understanding the benefits system, or people losing their job. All the areas can be interrelated because of the nature of people’s lives. For example, if someone is made redundant or their hours at work are reduced it means people aren’t able to keep up with payments and may take out credit. But it means people get into debt, which causes stress and has knock-on effects on people’s relationships and is a major cause of mental health problems.”

She pointed to one example of a man with cancer, who was forced to leave his job but was unable to claim the right benefit for a year because of the amount of time it takes people to be assessed. It is a familiar story for many in Herne Bay town centre, struggling to understand the complicated benefits system, or losing their job. And Ms Field admits the bureau may struggle to meet the demand. She said:

Simone Field
Simone Field

“Since the cuts to the legal aid budget we can’t be sure how we get long-term finance for our debt and benefit advice specialists. There is quite a lot of debt around, but we can only see people for three days a week. It’s not as simple as just giving financial capability advice. A lot of people are already in debt.”

Town centre Cllr Ron Flaherty (LibDem) believes there is no magic wand to fix the problems Herne Bay faces. He said:

“In Herne Bay there are small bedsits and a lot of small rented accommodation. Therefore one would expect Herne Bay would be higher in terms of people looking for advice over things like housing benefit and council tax.”

To find out more about the Citizens Advice Bureau visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Herne Bay Gazette, November 20th 2014

Check Also

Albion Rovers, and why I fell out with Cameron

There are now just two weeks until the general election, and political parties have began …