CEO of Northampton Hope Centre warns of 'social fragmentation' as poverty continues to rise

Local charities have warned for months that deprivation is getting worse, now they fear donations will fall too

By Max Pearson
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 3:56 pm

The CEO of Northampton Hope Centre, Robin Burgess, is warning of possible "social fragmentation" as his charity sees poverty continuing to rise.

His warning comes following the reveal of Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak's Spring Statement, which the Resolution Foundation estimates would cost households about £535 more by 2024-25. This despite it being advertised as "the biggest net cut to personal taxes in over a quarter of a century".

As the conflict in Ukraine drives up already escalating oil and gas prices, and costs of living continue to rise more widely, the charity has accused the government of dropping the ball.

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Pictured: Hope CEO Robin Burgess

The CEO said: "The Government, in the eyes of pretty much every UK charity concerned with these issues, has totally refused to help the poorest in their recent Spring Statement. Indeed they took money away from them by only raising benefits by 3.1 percent against an inflation rate of [much higher].

"Hope tries every day to meet the needs of the poorest in our society. But we cannot in any way mitigate fully against the scale of poverty that is coming. It is simply too great.

"It is also too great because, for the same reasons, we are at risk of seeing a fall in income this year as ordinary people, our largest single source of income, tighten their belts, and because no new government grant funding is available.

"We will, of course, work tirelessly to serve the poorest and also tirelessly seek the funds needed to sustain our services."

It was hoped that the report would usher in greater cohesion between the various poverty-related charities in Northampton.

Now, with Mr Burgess intending to step down as the charity's CEO by mid-June this year, the Hope Centre and its allies could have a tougher road ahead than expected.

He said: "However, desperate though this picture was, it will only get much worse.

"There are real and legitimate fears for the physical and mental wellbeing of the people we serve, and who knows, possible issues of social fragmentation.

"We need your help, as supporters and donors, to keep donations flowing. Without this the impact on the poorest will be ever greater. We will ask you to support our work with passion and care, and to maintain your support. We know you will stand with us.

"But we will also campaign, as a single organisation and with others, for fairness and justice. Campaigning is needed more than ever, and we ask you to understand why there is a need to do so. Only by speaking with and for the poor will they see justice."