Trade union leader demands extra funding for 'deprived' Norfolk town
PUBLISHED: 20:53 14 February 2019 | UPDATED: 20:53 14 February 2019
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A Norfolk town's economic situation is so dire it needs a government hand-out, according to a local trade union leader.
President of Great Yarmouth and District Trade Union Congress (TUC) John Cannell has written to the seaside town’s MP Brandon Lewis, criticising the effects of Universal Credit on his constituency’s economy.
Universal Credit is the controversial scheme which merges a bundle of income-based benefits into one payment.
According to the letter, sent to Mr Lewis’ office in the House of Commons on February 1, the scheme’s roll-out has had an effect on the “spending power of working people, effecting the shops and businesses, because of the lack of pounds in the pocket”.
The letter asks the MP, who is also chairman of the Conservative Party, to seek “compensation” for Great Yarmouth.
“This could be achieved by extra funding to public services and job creation on 52-week employment and a higher level rate support for the local authority,” the letter states.
Speaking to this newspaper, Mr Cannell said that Mr Lewis has not yet replied to the letter.
He said that cuts to grants to local authorities have had a “disastrous effect” on the borough’s economy and that the TUC believes the area should have “special support to recognise the serious economic situation that faces the town”.
“Forget about the Golden Mile, we have to look at the people who live here 52 weeks of the year,” he said.
A profile of the borough, published in 2017 by the local council, said there are pockets of severe deprivation, especially the Nelson and Regent Wards in the centre of the town, while statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government gathered in 2015 revealed that more than one quarter of the town’s neighbourhoods were in the most deprived 10pc nationally.
Almost 20pc of the district’s adults were considered in employment deprivation.
Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) revealed that last year there was a 21pc rise in Universal Credit claimants in Great Yarmouth.
In the letter Mr Cannell said that the scheme is resulting in “real poverty” in the town.
He also said that Great Yarmouth has a lower life expectancy than the rest of Norfolk.
Mr Lewis could not be reached for comment.