RIBBLE Valley’s wealth causes major problems for its poorer households, borough chief executive Marshal Scott has told councillors.

Although the borough counts as the least deprived in Lancashire, high property prices and a lack of social housing means the less well off really struggle.

Mr Scott also reveals in a report to the council’s Health and Housing Committee that overall the borough has moved up the deprivation index from 290th most deprived borough in England to 285th.

Despite this Mr Scott highlights house prices and rents far higher than in neighbouring East Lancashire boroughs.

In his report to the committee which meets a week today, Mr Scott said: “The statistics and information provided demonstrates Ribble Valley’s deprivation levels and evidences that by comparison on a national and regional level deprivation and the associated issues that deprivation creates is not a significant problem for the borough.

“However, access to services, house prices, low housing benefit rates and a shortage of social housing, means deprived households in the borough face greater challenges in seeking support than those in neighbouring authorities.”

Whalley Tory councillor and borough planning chairman Terry Hill said: “On the surface Ribble Valley is a wealthy borough but there are real pockets of deprivation. Being hard up in an affluent area can be really difficult.

“We have high levels of employment and low benefit claimant counts, but many people work in low paid or part-time jobs. That makes life really hard for them in these tough times with high house prices and high rents in the borough.

“I have a lot of sympathy for those households in really straitened circumstances in Ribble Valley and the council has to make sure it does all it can to help them.

“That is why we were one of the few councils not to impose the full 20 per cent cuts in council tax benefit last year and will still keep it below that in the coming year.”