CAMPAIGNERS have urged the Government to reveal an ‘ambitious’ bid to tackle child poverty after new figures revealed 2,243 youngsters across Droitwich and the surrounding area were living below the breadline.
Research by End Child Poverty, the UK’s leading child poverty coalition, revealed the shocking statistics which relate to family income after housing costs such as rent and mortgage were paid out.
According to the figures, conducted by Professor Donald Hirsch and Dr Juliet Stone at the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, Droitwich West fares the worst with 681 – 45 per cent – of children living in poverty there.
Other startling statistics included Droitwich Central and Ombersley, both 26 per cent.
Campaigners want to see the link restored between benefits, including housing support, and inflation, and the loss in children’s benefits as a result of the four-year freeze and previous sub-inflation increases in benefit rates to be made up.
An end to the two-child limit on child allowances in tax credits and universal credit, reforming Universal Credit and a reversal of the cuts and investing in children’s services such as mental health, education, childcare and social care have also been called for by charity chiefs.
Anna Feuchtwang, chair of the End Child Poverty coalition, said children growing up in poverty were trapped.
“It restricts a child’s chances of doing well at school, of living a healthy and happy life, and of finding well paid work as adults.”
She said the Government urgently needed to set a course of action to free children from the grip of poverty.
“We know what causes child poverty and we know how to end it. We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs.
“And we know that work alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.
Mid Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston said: “The data published by the End Child Poverty Coalition shows there are big differences in the number of children living in relative poverty in different parts of Wychavon District.
“The different rates between areas like Droitwich West and Droitwich South East is just one example.
“There is a common misconception that MPs representing non-urban constituencies represent only wealthy constituents. We do not.
“There are pockets of poverty and deprivation in my constituency that are just as acute as inner-city areas, and I will continue to lobby for our fair share of public expenditure to help my most vulnerable constituents.”
He added families were deemed living in poverty if their income was less than 60 per cent of an average household which meant, when wages rose and more people started work, people continued to be classed as living in poverty when they had actually seen their earnings rise.
“However, I do believe these figures show that more needs to be done.
“We need to build on the Government’s efforts to increase the number of working households, which is one of the main ways we can help children and families under the relative poverty line – and there are now 665,000 fewer children living in workless households than in 2010.
“It has been a core goal of this Government to increase take-home pay of the lowest paid, and this has been done by increasing the living wage from £5.93 under Labour to £8.21 today and taking three million of the lowest paid out of paying Income Tax altogether, increasing the tax-free allowance from £6,475 under Labour to £12,500 with the Conservatives.”