RISES in the costs of living will be ‘devastating’ for residents in some of Gwent’s most deprived areas, it is feared.

Nearly four in 10 households in Wales do not have enough money to buy anything beyond everyday items, according to a report by The Bevan Foundation, and this situation is likely to get worse as the cost of electricity, gas, fuel and food increases.

Before Covid arrived, Wales already had the highest poverty rates of all the UK nations, with one in six people living in income deprivation.

Four of Gwent’s council areas are among the most deprived: Blaenau Gwent (21 per cent), Caerphilly, Newport (both 18 per cent) and Torfaen (17 per cent) all have more people living in income deprivation than the national average (16 per cent).

And according to the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation – the Welsh Government’s official measure of deprivation levels – the most deprived ward in South Wales is the St James ward, which includes the Lansbury Park estate, in Caerphilly county borough.

Cllr Christine Forehead, who represents the ward, said she fears the level of deprivation in the area will get worse due to the cost of living crisis.

“It’s going to be absolutely devastating,” she said.

“Lansbury Park was deprived before the rise in the costs of living started.

“I’m really concerned. There’s an awful lot of deprivation at the moment.

“It’s just going to get worse.”

Cllr Forehead said she fears a lot of young families and children will be impacted, as well as older people.

A report by The Bevan Foundation, published in December, warned the number of households having to cut back on items relating to their children was “a serious source of concern”.

Dr Steffan Evans, head of policy at the charity, said: “It really is no exaggeration to say that many households in Gwent are having to choose between eating and heating.

“Nearly a third of Welsh households had already had to cut back on their heating, electricity and/ or water whilst more than a quarter had cut back on the food for adults as we headed into winter.

“With costs continuing to rise things are likely to get worse before they get better.”

Blaenau Gwent also has a high number of areas among the most deprived in Wales, according to Welsh Government figures.

Ebbw Vale councillor Phil Edwards said the crisis will affect everybody, but particularly those on Universal Credit and low incomes.

“It’s going to have a devastating impact on a lot of the residents,” he said.

“I think everybody is going to be affected by it.”

Jo Watkins, a volunteer at Caldicot Food Bank, said those in rural areas of Monmouthshire will also be impacted due to rises in the costs of oil heating and fuel prices.

She said the number of people using the food bank has remained high since Christmas.

“We really are seeing noticeable issues and people, when they come to us, are genuinely worried about how they are going to make ends meet at the moment,” she said.