Poverty and joblessness are stalking the streets of Llandrindod Wells, according to the newspapers. Is everybody having a happy new year, then?
We’ve known for some time that average wages in Powys are less than three-quarters of the national average (according to the Western Mail in January 2011, when the average was £598.30 per week while, in Powys, it was £435.40 – 72 per cent of the average).
Now I read that, with the public sector shrinking rapidly, and wages about to be cut in the little that remains, private firms cannot match its wages.
This means the pulic-private wage gap here is the largest in the UK – a difference of 18.5 per cent for women and 18 per cent for men, compared to UK averages of 10.2 per cent for women and 4.6 per cent for men.
Unemployment in Llandrindod is the highest in Powys at 4.6 per cent. Taken by electoral division, this amounts to 67 people in Llandrindod East/West – 10.5 per cent of the available workforce, the sixth highest amount in Wales; 66 in Llandrindod South, or 5.9 per cent of the workforce; and 55 in Llandrindod North, or 4.8 per cent.
And Llandrindod North has the highest child poverty rate in Powys: 34 per cent.
That’s more than a third of the children in the ward, according to the Campaign to End Child Poverty. The organisation has said parents need access to decent jobs in both the public and private sectors.
I can tell that some of you are probably starting to laugh derisively at the optimism of that statement. It’s not funny, I assure you.
The icing on the cake is a report from EuroDebt Financial Services, which states that people in Llandod are among the most likely to have overspent in the run-up to Christmas.
The town was believed to be 15th most likely in the UK to have overspent, with the amount expected to be 104 per cent of their disposable income.
In other words, people in my town were predicted to have gone into debt to pay for Christmas.
It is a revealing indictment of the state of the nation that some of the most generous households in the UK – Llandrindod included – have some of the lowest incomes!
The issues raised by these statistics are not going to go away and dedicated help is required from our political leaders.
But in a town where the MP and Assembly Member are Liberal Democrats, and two of the three county councillors are Conservatives – all members of the parties that are causing much of the misery – this seems unlikely.
The county councillors are up for election this year. I hope the people in my town will weigh up their votes very carefully indeed before casting them.
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