A poverty hearing was held at The Shoreham Centre in Pond Road, Shoreham, to create an ‘opportunity’ for those experiencing poverty to ‘showcase their personal experiences’.
Among the speakers was a 22-year-old woman who brought her baby and described her ‘fears’ when she was pregnant and homeless, before receiving support from the Worthing Churches Homeless Projects.
The hearing also heard from four young people from the Worthing Foyer, one who talked about his fears of being gay and how he had ‘eaten out of bins’.
Simon Duffy, director of Welfare Reform for Adur District Council, said: “The poor suffer a huge burden of unfair taxes and pay the highest taxes, equivalent to a super tax.
“For instance, the poorest 10 per cent of households pay 47 per cent of their income in tax, this from not just income tax but a range of other taxes such as VAT.
“The Who Really Benefits from Welfare Report suggests that the inequality gap has widened, and it further suggests that in many respects the current benefit system works by a sleight of hand as much of benefit paid is clawed back in tax.”
The hearing, which took place last month, was supported by Adur Churches Forum, Shoreham Community Trust, Adur Voluntary Action, Worthing Churches Homeless Projects and the YMCA, Worthing.
Later in the evening, another person called for a more ‘human-centered’ approach to mental health and poverty, saying they regularly live in the dark when they can’t afford money for electric.
Rachel Blair, a community fundraiser for Worthing Churches Homeless Projects, spoke about her work raising awareness of homelessness.
She said: “We have seen 11,000 people this year and the Local Alliance Network which we manage has helped over 400 people.
“I am pleased to have the opportunity to raise awareness of homelessness and the support offered by WCHP.”
Worthing councillor James Doyle said, however, that he was concerned about ‘otherness’ and Public Safety Protection Orders which risk criminalising people on the street.
Councillor Dave Simmons said the council had to live within its budget, but added the council was planning to build more affordable housing in the future.
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