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For the next four years we will

  • Develop local support networks to reduce food and fuel poverty and support people that are experiencing hardship
  • Promote services that increase resilience, self-reliance and independence
  • Prioritise the delivery of our domestic violence and abuse strategy
  • Promote community cohesion including reduction of hate crime by improving awareness and response
  • Develop a coordinated approach to address child poverty
  • Consider the findings of the Race Equality Audit and implement its recommendations

Are you in?

We want to hear your thoughts on how we can work together to make Devon the best place to grow up, live well and prosper

Poverty and equality in Devon

Devon is not a deprived county when compared to England as a whole. A quality of life report published by the Thriving Places Index said that our county provided ‘more of the conditions necessary for well-being than any other authority in the country.’

But three electoral wards (Ilfracombe Central, Barnstaple Central and Forches and Whiddon Valley) are in the most deprived 10% of all areas in England, and another 18 wards are in the 20% most deprived. Around 4% of Devon’s population live in these areas.

Devon is also one of the least socially mobile counties in the United Kingdom. Areas of the county that have seen less economic growth such as Torridge and North Devon have lower levels of social mobility.

There are large gaps in educational attainment in Devon. People living in more deprived communities, boys, and pupils with English as a second language all experience poorer attainment.

There are also inequalities in health, with a 15-year gap in life expectancy between central Ilfracombe (75 years) and Exmouth Liverton (90 years). One in eight children lives in poverty in Devon, with a large gap between the highest (33.3% in the Forches area, Barnstaple) and lowest (1.1% in Teignmouth Road, Dawlish) rates.

Why is this a priority?

COVID-19 has brought to wider consciousness inequalities within societies, in areas from healthcare to technology. These inequalities are felt along various lines, from ethnicity to income. Minority groups and people with disabilities face multiple barriers in access to essential services.

In addition to tackling poverty and improving social mobility, the County Council and public sector partners have legal duties to eliminate discrimination, advance equality and foster good relations on grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation (Equality Act 2010).

There are opportunities not to be missed to ‘build back better’ and redesign community space and services with equality, diversity, safety and inclusion central to our thinking, along with economic recovery and environmental protection.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected poverty and inequality?

  • Household food insecurity increased during the coronavirus pandemic. The Food Foundation found that 4.7 million adults and 2.3 million children lived in household which experienced food insecurity in the first six months of the pandemic, including 12% of all households with children.
  • COVID-19 has demonstrated that people living in more disadvantaged neighbourhoods have higher rates of risk factors to health; the health inequalities that already existed in society have become even starker because of the pandemic.
  • The pandemic and other factors have contributed to rising community tensions and an increase in hate-related crime.
  • There has been a disproportionate number of deaths among black and South Asian people.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic may increase inequality and relative poverty in the UK to levels not seen since before the introduction of the Welfare State in 1948.
    The COVID-19 pandemic data and subsequent Runnymede CERD report ( have highlighted that systemic racism is a problem affecting ethnically diverse people in the UK. Local research and engagement highlights barriers in accessing services and information, opportunities, and an increase in hostile attitudes.
Roger Croad

Councillor Roger Croad

Cabinet Member for Public Health, Communities and Equality

“I know that there are people in Devon who are struggling to afford food and that this is a problem that became worse during the pandemic. The Council is enabling social enterprises, voluntary and community groups to bring more people together to find the right local solutions. I want more healthy and locally produced food to be made in Devon; cooked in Devon and eaten in Devon.

“We also have much more to do if we are to help Devon become a more inclusive place where diversity is celebrated and our black, Asian and ethnically diverse residents and staff, in particular, feel safe and included.”