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Torridge one of the worst places in England for young people’s prospects

PUBLISHED: 12:45 06 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:45 06 December 2017

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A new report into social mobility has ranked Torridge in the bottom 10-20 per cent of areas for young people’s prospects growing up - and North Devon didn’t rank much higher.

A new report highlighting the ‘stark’ postcode lottery of disadvantaged young people’s prospects has named Torridge as one of the worst places in the country.

The Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation report has placed Torridge as the 42nd worst local authority for social mobility – in the bottom 10-20 per cent.

North Devon ranked higher, at 238 out of 324, but while it is not a ‘coldspot’ like Torridge, it is still within the bottom 20-30 per cent of local authorities.

The report ranks all 324 local authorities in England in terms of the life chances of someone born into a disadvantaged background.

Poor transport, social isolation and a lack of broadband were among the issues North Devon and Torridge district councils cited for the poor rankings.

One of the recommendations the report made to councils was to become accredited living wage employers and to encourage others to do so too.

But Councillor James Morrish, lead member of economy at TDC, said he could not support something which would ‘cripple’ small businesses in the area.

He said: “In effect, an increase of £1.50-£2 an hour will cripple some of our small businesses, and as lead member for economy I wouldn’t want to support anything that made things more difficult for smaller businesses.”

Cllr Morrish added: “I believe as a district we have an awful lot going for us and a lot of that really is about the communities that we live in.”

Des Brailey, leader of North Devon Council, said: “In terms of our social mobility ranking, the lack of affordable housing coupled with lower than average wages in North Devon is a great challenge to us.

“This is a beautiful place to live and people in retirement and second home owners are drawn here, pushing house prices up.

“Our demographics mean there is greater pressure on our care services and this is reflected in the number of public sector employers and the level of lower paid health care jobs in the area.”

Devon County Council said it was working closely with schools and governors to improve the education of disadvantaged children.

A spokesman said: “Almost all our schools in isolated areas are linked with other schools in federations or multi academy trusts and cooperate on school improvement.”

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