AN ASIAN community leader today claimed that Burnley's Bangladeshi community was one of he most deprived in the country.

He called for major government investment in the Daneshouse area, after a national survey showed Pakistani and Bangladeshi families were easily the poorest of all ethnic minorities.

Coun Malik, a community chief in Burnley for more than 30 years, said the town's Bangladeshi community, which is the largest in Lancashire, was beset with unemployment and overcrowding problems and was more than four times more deprived than the national average, according to research from the Joseph Roundtree Foundation.

The Pakistani community in Burnley, he added, was at least four times as poor as white families.

Coun Malik welcomed the report's findings which, he said, confirmed what people involved in ethnic minorities had known for years.

Much of the regeneration cash handed out in recent years was welcome, but too small to make a marked and comprehensive impact on communities and amounted to tinkering with the problem, he said.

He welcomed the Government's New Deal initiative, which would provide £50 million for poor areas to tackle major problems from environment to employment, traffic-calming to drugs and hoped Burnley would be included in a follow-up scheme.

He said his greatest worry about the Roundtree report was that the poverty of ethnic minority families would knock-on to the future.

The survey shows that as many as six out of 10 Pakistani and Bangladeshi families had net incomes less than half the national average.

The research involving 2,500 ethnic minority families showed Bangladeshi and Pakistanis by far the poorest, with high unemployment among men, low economic activity by women, low pay and large family sizes, all contributing to a situation in which 60 per cent fell below unofficial poverty lines set by half average household income.

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