SIXTY percent of households in Burnley claim some kind of state benefit with the average amount being £32.

People living in a third of Burnley properties claim housing and council tax benefits, with the figure rising to more than 50 percent in the Daneshouse area.

A quarter of Burnley households contain only pensioners, with 45 percent of the elderly suffering long-term illness.

In the Brunshaw area of town 23.8 percent of the residents suffer from long-term illness.

The shock figures were revealed at a "Making Ends Meet Advice Day'' at the Mechanics, where a large number of organisations were offering information and advice aimed at helping people with their money problems.

A free and confidential advice service on money, benefits and debt, was available at the event, linked to the UN International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. Anti-poverty officer, Steve Watson, also revealed that the average hourly rate of pay in Burnley is £3.48, compared to the National 1993 New Earnings Survey of £7.83.

Burnley's annual average gross income, excluding all benefits, is £7,085 and in Asian households only £5,870, before benefits.

That compares to the 1992 General Households Survey which gave a national gross income at £14,310.

Mr Watson said the day was to focus on those people experiencing poverty whether they were low paid, unemployed, single parents, pensioners, families with children or asylum seekers.

It was a day not only to recognise the existence of poverty but to pay recognition to the strength and resourcefulness of those living in poverty.

He said: "It is not simply a case of lack of income; it is about social exclusion and stigmatization. Beyond that there are the repercussions on health, education and employment opportunities.

"People living in poverty should not be treated as an underclass, too often undervalued and underestimated. They have rights and should have the freedom to make choices and exercise those rights.''

Organisations taking part in the event in Burnley were the Citizen's Advice Bureau, Burnley Community Advice Centre, Age Concern, Burnley Local Exchange Trading systems, Burnley Staying Put Project; the Helpline, South West Burnley Community Development Trust, Women's Health Projects, Home Energy Efficiency Grants, Community Services among many others.

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