High poverty and deprivation in Brent is focus of new independent report

A report on the high poverty levels in Brent has been published. Picture: PA Images/Joe Giddens.

A report on the high poverty levels in Brent has been published. Picture: PA Images/Joe Giddens. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Brent Council has promised to do more after a report highlighted high rates of poverty in the borough.

A report called A Fairer Future - Ending Poverty in Brent was launched on Monday (August 18), led by Lord Richard Best.

The report was commissioned by Brent Council, and outlines more than 40 recommendations to tackle the causes and consequences of poverty in Brent and highlights the huge impact of expensive rents, which doubles the number of people living below the poverty line in the borough.

Lord Best, an independent crossbench peer and social housing champion, said: “You were taking a bit of a gamble because we might have said Brent’s rubbish and doing everything wrong but in fact we were incredibly impressed by the way the council in the past, but not least now with Covid, has responded to the challenges of people living in very poor conditions.”

He said the research was carried out with the Smith Institute, who interviewed “a whole range of people”, with statistics taken from the Office of National Statistics.

The report said 43 per cent of children live in poverty in Brent.

Lord Best said there was a “mismatch” between people’s incomes and their living costs, which in Brent is “peculiarly high”, and the cost of housing “the real killer blow”.

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Council properties in Brent had dropped from 32,000 to around 8,000, and into a private sector that is “expensive” with “high levels of evictions”. He added: “This switch from social housing to the private rental sector, this has been the real body blow that has reduced people’s income and taken the most hard working below the poverty line.”

He said 17pc of households and 22pc of children live in poverty in Brent, but this rises to 33pc of households and 43pc of children once housing costs are taken into account. The meeting also heard from Jacky Peacock, from Advice4Renters, who said if Covid were to hit people suffering fuel and food poverty during winter months it would be “utterly catastrophic”.

Alice Woudhuysen, from Child Poverty Action Group, said “flexibility” was recommended around the immediate repayment of council tax as “many families are suffering” because they can’t pay it. Cllr Eleanor Southwood, who commissioned the report, said: “Lord Best and his commissioners have provided us with a pretty unambiguous baseline from which we can and must recalibrate our efforts to tackle poverty.”