The hidden perils of living in Surrey and how you can help

As reported in this newspaper earlier this year, according to the annual Halifax Quality of Life Survey the best place to live in 2017 was Hart District. Waverley followed closely behind within the top ten. This means that based on residents’ health and life expectancy, well-being, earnings, employment, a low crime rate and (relatively) good weather we live in one of the most desirable areas of the country.

Waverley is a smart borough within an affluent county. It may come as a surprise therefore to some residents that there are significant numbers of:

  • tight pockets of child poverty,
  • areas of low income, and
  • poor mental health

across Surrey.

These problems are often hidden behind statistics which reflect the majority of better off residents. Surrey has surprisingly high levels of domestic violence for example, and a larger than average population of older people. So, while Waverley is ranked as one of the least deprived areas in Britain there are still families (many of them in work) who struggle to make ends meet in some of our local communities.

Take the cost of housing, for example. For many local first time buyer families getting a 90% mortgage to buy a home would only be possible if the annual household income were well into six figures. This would be in addition to having £50,000 or so to cover the cost of the deposit together making buying a property out of the question for many households.

This puts pressure on the rental market, making rents higher in Waverley than in many other parts of the country outside London. On average private renting costs around £1,000 per month in Waverley. The national full-time median wage is just over £28,000 a year before stoppages. Clearly, paying the rent in Waverley (even on the national median wage and many receive less) doesn’t leave much for essential household expenditure like food, fuel and Council Tax even where there is a supplementary income.

The cost of living in Waverley is especially difficult for residents on low and/or insecure income or may be find themselves in reduced circumstances through no fault of their own.

Tanya (not her real name)’s tale is typical. Tanya has a seven year old son who is severely disabled. She needs to give him round the clock care and check on him regularly throughout the night as he has fits.  This means she cannot work full-time.  As a result she was unable to pay to renew her car insurance which made it difficult for her to take her son to school (which meant she had to rely on the already overstretched ambulance service).  Tanya’s marriage had broken down, her income had dropped and she was unable to make ends meet.

Volunteer advisers at Citizens Advice Waverley drew up a full financial statement to enable Tanya to negotiate more favourable monthly debt repayments in line with her income and outgoings.  After applying to a local charity Citizens Advice Waverley secured a donation to pay for Tanya’s car insurance.  There was also enough money to buy a camera monitor to keep an eye on her son from her bed at night. Tanya is now able to get a better night’s sleep, reducing her stress and anxiety and helping her to give her son the support he needs.

All this advice and more was available to Tanya for free by calling 0344 848 7969. Citizens Advice Waverley is a registered charity.  You can help local people get the support they need by making a donation to Citizens Advice Waverley at https://waverleycab.org.uk/fundraisingYour donation stays local and will ensure we are here to help people like Tanya when they most need it.

Worried about something?

Don’t put it off – Citizens Advice Waverley can almost certainly help.

For free, independent, confidential advice call:

0344 848 7969

or visit:

https://waverleycab.org.uk

or https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk

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