In an earlier post, prior to the election it was mentioned that Belper Town Council makes an annual grant to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) of £10,000. This large sum of money represents nigh on 60% of the "Community Services" budget (as at 2013/14) but some years constitutes an even greater percentage of the budget when grants to other services are lowered. In an idle moment (and I have to confess that I have far too many of those) I wondered what Belper gets for its £10k so set my googling fingers to work.
This is what I found: link to the CAB interactive map, a very informative website that is a real eye opener. I was amazed to find that in the period 2013/14 the number of enquirers from Belper seeking advice about benefit problems was 937. Now given that the number of households in Belper, according to the Office of National Statistics, is 9,400 my admittedly back of a fag packet calculation averaging out the 937 and 9,400 gives us 1 in 10 households with a benefit problem that warranted a trip to the CAB. It would be safe to assume that there are many others who are suffering similar hardship but for whatever reason have not consulted the CAB.
A careful study of the CAB interactive map will supply you with further gems like the fact (courtesy of yet more back of fag packet scribbles) that 1 in 20 households seek advice about debt, may possibly lead you to question my 1 in 10 headline but whichever way you look at it that there are serious problems in this town that our true blue Tory Town Council only addresses by making a grant to the CAB and not enough direct help to those who are in need. There are people in Belper who go hungry and in winter they shiver in their homes but the council gives them hope ............... yes this must be the job of Mr Potato Head, if they have no potatoes to eat at least they can wave at one made of fibreglass.
Let them eat flowers.
Poverty is hidden in this town, hidden behind a booming King Street, hidden behind a comfortable suburbia full of privet hedges and lawns ............... hidden behind badly insulated walls the poor sit fearful of the next unpayable bill dropping through their letterbox. Am I being too emotive about this? No because there are 937 reasons why this post has to be written. As we have seen in the election the true nature of Tory austerity is not understood by those who are more comfortably off but for the 10% at the bottom of the heap the reality of a Tory government hell bent on cutting taxes and rewarding the rich is very painful.
If you are interested in finding out more about the CAB you can explore their website and for a look at their history I found this Wikipedia article to be a very interesting read.