Charities reveal pockets of high child poverty

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New figures reveal that one in three children in some areas of Lancaster and Morecambe are living in poverty.

And many families are suffering in silence, according to Coun Margaret Pattison, who represents Heysham North, where 32 per cent of children fall into the poverty category.

The detailed figures, recently published by the End Child Poverty organisation, show levels of child poverty in each constituency, local authority and ward in the UK.

The Campaign to End Child Poverty is made up of more than 150 organisations from civic society including children’s charities, child welfare organisations, social justice groups, faith groups, trade unions and others, united in our vision of a UK free of child poverty.

In Lancaster’s Skerton West ward, 32 per cent of children are classed as living in poverty, with 28 per cent in Skerton East, and 30 per cent in Westgate, Morecambe.

Coun Pattison said: “A lot of people are suffering in silence, and many don’t seek help until they’re absolutely desperate.

“People are so embarassed to pick up food parcels.

“There’s a father whose working hours have been cut, so he’s got less money coming in, and the bills are increasing all the time. He cried when he picked up the food.

“Most people that are suffering at the moment are working people.

“If children aren’t fed well, their schooling starts suffering and they’re falling asleep in class.

“It’s a vicious circle and we can see things are getting a whole lot worse.

“We’ve got to work together to sort these problems out.”

Coun Pattison said there was help available from organisations such as charities West End Impact and Help Direct.

Lancashire County Council did not want to comment specifically on the figures, but said it had recently launched a campaign to help parents find out about financial support available to help towards paying childcare costs.

Tracy Cole, manager at West End Impact, said that the Heysham North area was in the top 10 per cent in the country for child poverty.

She said: “We’re working with about 250 people in the West End area, and I could tell you story after story about atrocious poverty.

“One of the problems is that accommodation is substandard because of rogue landlords.

“The people at the county council need to do a bit more community surveying and get amongst the worst affected people before they make their decisions.”

County Coun Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children and Schools, said: “We want to do all we can to make sure that parents are aware of all the childcare options available to them and the different types of benefit they can access.

“We’re here to help so if you feel you’re struggling, there’s no need to do it alone.”

Call the Family Information Service for free on 0800 195 0137 or email lancsfis@lancashire.gov.uk. Calls and emails will be answered between 8am and 5pm. There are currently 2.8m children living in poverty in the UK.

The Coalition’s Programme for Government made clear its commitment to ending child poverty by 2020.

Children are said to be living in relative income poverty if their household’s income is less than 60 per cent of the median national income, which was £20,801 in 2010.

Limited educational resources, a poor home learning environment, poor physical and mental health and family instability all contribute to limiting children’s opportunities and aspiration.