Poverty report spells out need for funding

Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan and Baroness Tyler of Enfield at the launch of the Enfield Poverty and Inequality Commission
Baroness Tyler of Enfield and Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan at the launch of the Enfield Poverty and Inequality Commission

Divide between east and west Enfield has ‘sharpened’, reports James Cracknell

Worsening poverty and inequality in Enfield has made the borough “more like inner London than outer London”.

This was one of the damning conclusions made in a landmark report examining the quality of life for local people – which also laid bare the huge differences between living in the east and west of the borough.

Commissioned by Enfield Council but independently drawn up by experts from The Smith Institute, the Enfield Poverty and Inequality Commission (EPIC) published its report All things being equal at the House of Lords last week.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield, a former pupil of The Latymer School in Edmonton, acted as chair of the commission. She said: “I know quite well that Enfield has the reputation of a leafy outer London suburb, but I always knew there was a divide between east and west – this has really sharpened in the last decade.

“It is clear to me now that the levels of poverty and deprivation are more comparable to inner London boroughs than they were ten years ago. Enfield has risen from the twelfth most deprived to the ninth most deprived borough in London.”

Funding levels for public services in Enfield remain much lower per head than in inner London, despite deprivation growing quicker in outer London. EPIC has challenged this outdated formula and called on the government to end the borough’s “unfair” funding allocations, particularly for public health and schools.

Baroness Tyler said she knew the government wanted to focus on northern England but urged local service providers to “make the case” for outer London. She added: “Enfield is still getting funding more appropriate to what it was like 20 years ago than what it is like today. The government needs to recognise the growing levels of poverty in outer London.”

Some of the stark statistics highlighted by EPIC include Enfield having the highest number of evictions from private rental properties in London, the eleventh highest rate of child poverty in the UK, the second highest level of serious youth violence in London, and the fifth highest child obesity rate in London.

There has been a 250% rise in homelessness since 2011, and one in three Enfield children now live in poverty. The disparity between the borough’s east and west was also made clear in health data showing that the average life expectancy was 8.5 years lower for people living in the poorest part of Enfield compared with those in the richest part. Someone living in Edmonton Green can expect to live in good health for 66.6% of their life, compared with 81.5% in Winchmore Hill.

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The commission’s investigation into Enfield’s poverty and inequality was conducted over a six-month period between May and November last year and cost the council £22,500. It sought evidence from a range of community stakeholders including headteachers, council officers, NHS bosses, charities, residents’ groups, the Metropolitan Police, local MPs, trade unions and business leaders.

As well as outlining the extent of poverty in Enfield, in its report EPIC makes 27 recommendations both for local and national government to take forward. Enfield Council has agreed to draw up an action plan, including measurable targets which can be reviewed and scrutinised. An independent review of its progress will be made in one year’s time.

While some of the recommendations, such as a review of funding formulas, are beyond control of the local authority, many explicitly call on the council to act – such as restoring funding for youth services.

Speaking to the Dispatch, council leader Nesil Caliskan pledged to follow the recommendations. She said: “I am really aware there are pockets of poverty around the whole borough, but the east side is disproportionately affected.

“The action plan is the next stage that will come out of this and we will need to deliver on the recommendations.”

Newly-elected Enfield North MP Feryal Clark also attended the House of Lords event and said: “My priority is to make sure these recommendations are acted upon. The other local MPs and I will continue to make sure we do our bit to deliver on these recommendations.”

Read the full EPIC report All things being equal:

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