Uncovering Sussex: How OCSI’s research helps Sussex Community Foundation to tackle poverty

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Sussex Community Foundation (SCF) is one of 46 community foundations across the UK. The organisation raises funds and makes grants to inspire local giving and meet local needs across West Sussex, East Sussex, and Brighton & Hove – ‘inspiring local giving to meet local needs’.

Following a successful 2020 partnership with OCSI, SCF’s team recommissioned our researchers to gain insights into Sussex’s poverty levels, starting the four-part ‘Sussex Uncovered’ report series.

Methodology

After reviewing the data landscape, OCSI’s research team began their work by analysing and evaluating data under five key themes:

  • People living in financial hardship
  • People unemployed or involuntarily excluded from the labour market
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • People experiencing fuel poverty
  • People experiencing barriers due to disability, ethnic background, immigration status, or sexuality

The team chose these themes based on their experience in producing Needs Profiles for Community Foundations and their knowledge of the data landscape, forming the basis of OCSI’s analysis.

The team then identified the performance of Sussex’s Local Authorities, major towns, rural areas, and neighbourhoods, summarising their findings in a narrative analysis and supplementing it with data visualisations. To simplify area aggregation, the team used Local Insight to quickly export population statistics for the areas under review.

The narrative-driven approach was used as it meant that the team could emphasise the trends and issues they discovered in the form of an easily understood story, allowing for a deeper understanding of the issues at hand.

Findings

OCSI identified four clear challenges faced by Sussex communities in their campaign against poverty.

Challenge 1: An ageing population

Sussex’s population is older than the national average, and the 65+ population is projected to grow by 41.3% between 2020 and 2040. Already, rising social care and poor health burdens are creating challenges for the region’s public health services.

Challenge 2: High levels of long-term illness and poor outcome for those with a disability

17.6% of people in Sussex have a disability, compared to 15.6% in the South East and 16.9% in England. There is strong evidence to suggest that people with disabilities across Sussex are more likely to experience material deprivation challenges – alongside the general health challenges associated with long-term illness and disability.

Challenge 3: Inflationary pressures are contributing towards financial hardship

The region is experiencing financial pressures due to the rising costs of living, which is impacting housing affordability and the overall cost of essentials. Those in Sussex’s rural and coastal communities are especially vulnerable to the rising costs of energy bills, with 8.2% of homes in those areas found to have had a low energy efficiency rating – more than double the national average (3.3%).

Challenge 4: Multiple deprivation challenges in coastal communities​​

Each of the eight most deprived towns in Sussex is located in coastal communities. These towns face a range of issues, from economic struggles to social welfare concerns.

To explore these challenges in more detail, you can read the entire report here.

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