URGENT action needs to be taken by local authorities and public bodies to tackle poor living standards across the county, says a new report.

New research, undertaken by the Southern Policy Centre in partnership with the University of Southampton compared eight areas across Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to identify people “hidden” in more affluent parts of the region.

The report, which included a comparison of deprivation in West Portland against the more deprived West Moors area of Bournemouth, recommended that public bodies do more to address these issues and address a wider range of issues impacting on people living in poverty.

It looks at a range of areas including transport, housing and employment which affect people outside of major urban areas where poverty is more widespread.

In the report, many of those interviewed described lives where they feel isolated, financially precarious, and alienated from those living around them.

Professor John Denham, of the Southern Policy Centre, said:

“Our findings suggest a frequent breakdown in relationships between vulnerable individuals, families and public bodies. Sensitive and local engagement is needed to rebuild trust.

“Crucially, people tell us that although they might have had encouraging encounters or positive communication with official sources in the past, over time they have seen efforts to alleviate their hardships peter out - community schemes have been abandoned, local schools closed, and health services withdrawn.

“At this local level, cutting back on these vital services plants seeds of distrust and disillusionment among what are often the most vulnerable people.

“Delivering on old promises and giving attention to following through, then, can help demonstrate commitment and start to overcome distrust."

“This need to rebuild trust resonates throughout our research – it is a vital lesson for policymakers in our region.”

The report makes two recommendations – one that public policy approach is developed specifically for people living in areas of deprivation and a second that local authorities address “neglected” issues including transport and “affordable” high streets.

In a joint statement, chief executive’s of Dorset County Council and the Dorset Councils partnership, Debbie Ward and Matt Prosser, said:

“The causes of inequality are multiple and need to be tackled by all agencies.

The research comes at the same time as Dorset County Council released it’s States of Dorset report on Deprivation which revealed that of the 12 areas of Dorset which are in the top 20 per cent most deprived nationally, nine were in Weymouth and Portland and in West Dorset while the other two lie within the East Dorset borough of Christchurch.

These included Melcombe Regis, Fortuneswell, Melcombe Regis, Littlemoor, Westham, and Rodwell as well as Court Orchard in Bridport.

The deprivation report also highlights that the average Weymouth and Portland resident earns residence based weekly earnings are £511 per week, compared to a national average of £553.

Commenting on the report, a spokesman for Dorset County Council, said: “Deprivation can be thought of as a lack of the necessities.

“It covers a wide range of factors that impact heavily on both individuals and families and consequently on council services, as those likely to suffer deprivation rely more heavily on intervention and support from the public sector. Deprivation is also a key challenge to health and wellbeing with levels of obesity and other lifestyle-related conditions higher amongst those living in deprivation.

“Early intervention can prevent problems from escalating. For example, by working with deprived families early on, the county council’s Troubled Families programme is intended to reduce demand for costly reactive public services.

“Areas of high deprivation also correlate strongly with higher levels of certain types of crime such as anti-social behaviour, domestic violence and burglary. The county council and its partners work together through the Dorset Community Safety Partnership to tackle crime.”