ALMOST one in five Barnsley residents have mounting debts which overtake their income, a shock new report has revealed.
A probe into the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, from Barnsley Council, suggests 16.9 per cent of working-age adults have been identified as being in the red each month.
Compiled by Julia Burrows, the council’s retiring director of public health, the report added that despite 69.1 per cent of the town’s residents being in work, 24.5 per cent of children are from low-income families, 11 per cent of households are experiencing hunger and a record-breaking 26,653 people are claiming Universal Credit.
The issues which will be discussed by the Central Area Council at a meeting next week.
Ms Burrows said: “Tackling poverty and addressing the related inequalities is not new for us as a council and it’s at the heart of our public health practice.
“However, the scale of the current crisis is extraordinary – people are struggling to provide daily essentials such as food and keeping themselves warm.
“This is affecting all types of households across our borough with those most affected needing a staggering 17 per cent or more increase in their income to enable them to provide for these basics.
“Poverty was already on the increase in Barnsley before Covid-19, but now with the significant gap between inflation and wage rises, we are seeing the inequality gap in our communities growing bigger.
“Families now need over £100 a month more to sustain normal levels of living.
“There is more to be done in terms of preventing people falling into crisis due to increasing costs.”
The stark findings come after a 94 per cent increase in the cost of food, an 82 per cent hike in gas and electricity prices and a 77 per cent rise in petrol and diesel.
Local leaders say most adults are cutting back on essentials as a result, with one in 50 responding to a council survey that they have relied on a foodbank to eat.
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis – whose constituency covers the Central Area Council’s villages – added: “A toxic triple-whammy of Covid-19, austerity and industrial decline has hit our town hard and, despite plenty of warm words, the Conservative government has consistently failed to level Barnsley up.
“This is being compounded by a cost-of-living crisis that is hammering Barnsley folk – with no sign of meaningful support from a chancellor more concerned with his own tax arrangements than supporting hard-up families.
“I know families in Barnsley are already struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and will be feeling the pinch over the school holidays, whether it’s missing free school meals or parents paying for childcare so they can go to work.”