Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney says a robust anti-poverty strategy is urgently needed to tackle inequality after it was confirmed a fifth of the poorest areas in the North are located in Derry and Strabane.
Mr. McCartney, speaking after the latest deprivation figures were published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), said: “Whilst the figures have just been published and need to be carefully studied, it is already evident from them that substantial inequalities still exist between and within communities. For instance, the highest levels of multiple deprivation are still occurring in the Belfast and Derry/Strabane council areas.
“These inequalities need to be robustly tackled if we are going to improve the lives of everyone and help them fulfil their true potential.”
The data make grim reading for the citizens of the North West with five of the ten most deprived Super Output Areas (SOAs) in the whole of the North located in Derry and Strabane. Indeed, the East ward, which covers the Fountain Street area of Strabane, is the most deprived ward in the North. Crevagh, a mixed urban/rural ward covering the back of Creggan, was the third most deprived area in the North; The Strand, the fifth most deprived; and The Diamond (6) and Creggan Central (10) also in the top ten. In fact, twenty of the 100 most deprived wards were in the Derry and Strabane area.
The figures above relate to the umbrella Multiple Deprivation Measure (MDM), which takes account of a number offactors. However, NISRA also compiled gradings on ‘Income Deprivation’ alone - identifyng wards with the highest proportion of households whose income was below 60 per cent of the northern average. They found 24 were in Derry City & Strabane, accounting for 32 per cent of its 75 SOAs - the highest proportion of all LGDs.
Derry City & Strabane (32 per cent) also had the highest proportion of SOAs in the 100 most deprived when ‘Employment Deprivation’ was graded.
Plumbridge was deemed the most deprived ward in the whole of the North in terms of ‘Access to Services’. The Strand ward was in the top 10 most deprived areas when it came to ‘Living Environment’, which measures shortcomings in the quality of housing, access to suitable housing, and the outdoor physical environment. And The Diamond was the most deprived area in the whole of the North when ‘Crime and Disorder’ was the key measure. The Strand was also in the top five worst areas.
“It will be imperative that any incoming Executive utilises the most recent data to fully develop an anti-poverty strategy which clearly targets those most in need, setting out the actions and outcomes they plan to achieve alongside a budget for ensuring the work is carried out. That needs to be a priority and Sinn Féin is continuing to engage with departmental officials as they prepare proposals for the anti-poverty strategy,” said Mr. McCartney.