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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Half of children in some parts of UK growing up in poverty, report warns

Written by Alan Jones

Half of children in some parts of the UK are growing up in poverty, revealing a "growing crisis", a new report warns.

Research by the End Child Poverty coalition showed that some of the most deprived areas of the country have seen the biggest increases in child poverty over the past few years.

The Government was urged to end the freeze on children's benefits so that families no longer see living standards "squeezed" as prices rise.

Child poverty - covering those in a family living on less than 60% of median household income - is highest in large cities, particularly London, Birmingham and Manchester, said the report.

Just over half of children in the constituencies of Bethnal Green and Bow (London), Birmingham Ladywood, Poplar and Limehouse (London) and Birmingham Hodge Hill were said to be living in poverty.

Tower Hamlets in London heads a list of local authorities with the highest percentage of children in poverty (53%), while the lowest is the Isles of Scilly (5%).

Sam Royston (pictured), who chairs End Child Poverty and is director of policy and research at the Children's Society, said: "It is scandalous that a child born in some parts of the UK now has a greater chance of growing up in poverty, than being in a family above the breadline.

"There can be little doubt that the Government's policy of maintaining the benefits freeze despite rising prices is a major contributor to the emerging child poverty crisis.

"No family in modern Britain should be struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes and clothe their children.

"End Child Poverty is calling on the Chancellor to end the freeze on children's benefits, and to invest in interest free credit for low income families, to ensure that poverty doesn't result in spiralling debt."

The coalition is made up of almost 100 organisations including children's charities, faith groups and trade unions.

Dalia Ben-Galim, of single parent campaign group Gingerbread, said: "Increasing levels of child poverty will continue to be the reality for many single parent families with the cost of living rising. "

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, commented: "These are shocking figures. It is nothing short of a disgrace that, in one of the wealthiest countries on Earth, there are constituencies where more than half of children are growing up in poverty."

A Government spokesman said: "The best route out of poverty is through employment, and since 2010 an extra three million more people are now in work and 600,000 fewer children are living in workless households.

"But we recognise that budgets are tight, and that's why we're helping families keep more of what they earn. We've doubled free childcare - worth £5,000 per child each year - while our £2.5 billion pupil premium programme is supporting two million disadvantaged schoolchildren across the country."

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