HASTINGS has been named as one of the top 20 most deprived areas in the country in a report released this week.
The latest Indices of Multiple Deprivation show the town has fallen 12 places to become the 19th most hard-up town in the UK, down from 31st position in 2007.
The IMD measures seven different criteria - income, employment, health, education, crime, barriers to housing and services and living environment - to produce a ranking and it makes grim reading for Hastings and St Leonards.
Despite millions of pounds of investment under the Labour Government, the town has slipped back on income, employment, health and education. And although there was better news with improvements in crime, access to services and living environment, these were not enough to halt a worrying slide down the table.
Amber Rudd MP admitted the new figures, which were compiled last year, were concerning. She said: “It does suggest that if you focus on outcomes, they have deteriorated and this is disappointing, but I am not going to knock the last Government and of course I welcomed the money we got.
“But my reaction to this is not: ‘Give us more money’, it is: ‘We need change.’
“It is about creating a new atmosphere and being aggressive about saying Hastings is open for business.”
The IMD figures showed that more than one in four residents live in areas in the poorest 10 per cent in the country, and Ms Rudd admitted she was particularly concerned about the fall in health.
“I am keen to find out why heath indicators fell across East Sussex - we need to find a strategy for turning that around. With education I think that strategy is in place with the substantial investment in Sussex Coast College Hastings and the new academy schools, but I will be meeting with the Primary Care Trust and the hospital trust to talk about the health figures.”
Ms Rudd welcomed an extra £9 million which is being allocated to Hastings and Rye to help the NHS support key Government health priorities, such as mental health support, buying cancer drugs, providing health visitors to visit new babies and their mums and helping carers have some breaks. She said it proved the Government remained committed to protecting the NHS, but with inflation levels running at around five per cent, it is difficult to see how this 2.8 per cent increase on last year’s local NHS budget will make much of an impact.
--A report on the budget in last week’s Observer included an incorrect figure about the new income tax allowances. We said that people could earn £833 a month before they were taxed, in fact this figure is much lower - £622, rising to £675 in April 2012. £833 is a target for 2015, and we apologise for the mistake.