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Hidden Needs in Suffolk
Cristian Mihai Dogaru

Last modified: 2017-10-29


Suffolk is a county in England with an estimated population, in 2016, of 745’300 inhabitants. It has the reputation of being a prosperous, picturesque, mostly rural county, so beautifully presented in the work of John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough, who claim Suffolk as their birthplace. However, the reality of Suffolk is not so shining. In 2011 a first report commissioned by Suffolk Community Foundations introduced the concept of “hidden need”, whereby overall affluence in a region conceals local deprivation. Five years on we revisited the analysis on Suffolk’s hidden needs – and the results are mixed. More than half of Suffolk’s neighbourhoods have experienced increased levels of relative deprivation in the last five years. Over 83’000 people in Suffolk – of which almost 20’000 are children – live in income deprivation at the most minimal standard provided by welfare benefits; this is about 5’000 more than five years before. The county experiences increased pressure from an ageing population with decreased birth rate and a lower proportion of working-age population compared regionally and nationally. While unemployment rates are lower in Suffolk than the regional and national rates, the income levels are also lower, with fewer people working in managerial and professional jobs.
The deprivation goes beyond income and it is, in some places, highly localised and concentrated. Many deprived individuals live in affluent areas which – counterintuitively at a first glance – tend to be rural and more isolated. An important implication is that their needs are indeed ‘hidden’, and they might find it more difficult to gain access to support and services.


Suffolk; hidden needs; rural; education; deprivation

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