by Yiyin Wang, Dhabya Almehairi and Xinyu Zhang
For many in cities like Newcastle food is an economic issue. With this in mind we decided to look at poverty in the city and compare it with the rest of the UK. In addition, we did further comparisons with data from the countries our colleagues are reporting on #foodlive from: America, India and Lebanon. Despite an upturn in its cultural profile over the past couple of decades there are still a large number of people who live in poverty in Newcastle. According to the Newcastle Council for Voluntary Services as of 2014 ‘Poverty and inequality are significant issues for Newcastle. The city is ranked 40th most deprived local authority area and 72,000 people in Newcastle live in the most deprived areas in the UK.’ Moreover, the CVS emphasised that the percentage of children who are living in poverty is 30%, much higher than 20.1% average across the rest of the UK.
Studies have shown that 15.6% of the city’s working age population is unemployed and in receipt of benefits. Unemployment is a significant issue in the city of Newcastle, a blight which also ravages parts India, Lebanon and the state of California too. The bar chart (Figure 1.1) below shows the average income per capita of these four places. As the graph shows, the monthly national income per capita in the UK is £2208.33 in 2014. This figure is lower for Newcastle at just £2173.83
The average income per capita in California is £1559.37 from US Census Bureau (2014). Furthermore, the poverty level in California is 15.3%. (The national poverty level in the US is 14.9%). On the other hand, in Lebanon, income per capita is 3,299,146 LBP, which is about £1376.14. (Salaryexplorer, 2014) And in India, income per capita is £64.09 while the poverty level in India is 21.9% in 2012, leaving India in the unenviable position of having the lowest wages and highest level of poverty. (Worldbank, 2014 )
This brings into focus Newcastle’s position both nationally and globally: lagging behind the UK and yet miles ahead of other parts of the world. Focusing on the Newcastle alone, the city council published this map which depicts the problems starkly. The dark blue areas are ones which are considered ‘deprived’ and, as you can see, the map is smattered with navy areas.
There is no reason to believe that the poverty situation in Newcastle will get significantly better in the medium term. With salaries dropping and food prices continuing to rise, food will continue to be an economic issue for people in the North of East England.