Poverty in Cumbria - Overview
Poverty is affecting the lives of people across all parts of Cumbria. Low incomes limit opportunities and prospects for children and young people, damage the quality of life for families and ultimately harm the long-term health and life expectancy for too many Cumbrians.
Poverty isn’t just an economic issue – it has a direct impact on health and well being and on quality of life. It doesn’t just affect the here and now - it has effects which outlast single generations and families, reaching into the future to affect the lives of those not yet born. Children growing up in poverty in Cumbria are more likely to suffer poor health, do less well in school and become the next generation of adults at risk of unemployment and long-term poverty.
Poverty is part of life for many of those both in and out of work in Cumbria with low pay, limited job security and the necessity of taking multiple part-time jobs being a feature of some of the county’s economic sectors including tourism (particularly hotel and catering) and agriculture (particularly upland farming), retail and social care. In communities with higher proportions of manufacturing and public service jobs, average wage rates are closer to the regional average.
The current economic climate is now making this situation more acute with dramatically increasing numbers of people facing uncertain or already bleak job prospects. The county has already seen redundancies for some, and reduced hours and thus wages for many more people working in both the public and private sectors. This is causing financial hardship and worries about the future evidenced by increasing demands for advice on re-training, benefits and other support.
The county council has both an obligation and an opportunity to protect the interests of those in greatest need and to champion the cause of those who are most at risk. People who experience poverty are all too often those who have the least say or direct influence on decisions which we and others take that affect their lives.