High levels of child poverty in city

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End Child Poverty campaign released figures collected in 2012  © End Child Poverty

End Child Poverty campaign released figures collected in 2012 © End Child Poverty

Liverpool Riverside has been ranked amongst the top five regions in the UK for having the highest levels of children who live in poverty, according to new reports.

The child poverty map, produced by the End Child Poverty campaign, showed that 42% of families in the city centre struggle to get by, which is more than four in ten children suffering from poverty – more than double the 20.2% average across the country.

Other similar affected areas include Belfast West, Glasgow North East, Middlesbrough, Birmingham Ladywood and Poplar and Limehouse.

The figures, which were collected by research last year, revealed Manchester Central as the worst hit parliamentary constituency with nearly half (47%) of children living in homes with an income below the 60% of the median household income.

Researchers for the campaign discovered a “wide disparity” across the country and within regions. In London, the rate for Bethnal Green and Bow is 42% compared with just 7% in Richmond. A great divide can also be seen in the North West as 38% of Manchester children are deprived whilst only 7% in Ribble Valley are poor.

Spokesperson for the campaign, Kate Bell wants action, telling JMU Journalism about the step that is being taken next. She said: “We are still are still shocked at the disparity in levels of wealth across the country and we are asking local authorities to take action to make sure that low income families are protected.

“We want them to look at why levels are so high and what they can do to combat them. There are a big range of benefit cuts coming in in April so we want the authorities to look at how families in areas with high concentrations of poverty will be affected by those cuts and what the authorities can do to help.”

Jane Corbett, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, told JMU Journalism: “These figures will only get much worse and children’s lives are being put at risk by the government’s combination of policies hitting children from every angle.

“This is a perfect storm created by the government who had several political choices in response to the financial crisis. They should now change course to protect the children. One little boy’s message to the government, that he gave to me, says: ‘Listen to me. You’re grown-ups. This is bad. You are being bad unless you do something about it.'”

The Liverpool Mayor, Joe Anderson, has set up a Mayoral Action Group as a way of tackling poverty and encouraging fairness. Councillor Corbett has been asked to be the Mayoral Lead on it and will look at implementing the scheme.

Cllr Corbett added: “We are aiming to have free nutritional breakfasts in our primary schools for all the children, starting with the most disadvantaged communities and rolling it out across the city as soon as possible, matching school’s pupil premium with donations.

“I’m working on this with the Liverpool Primary Heads Association as well as the children’s society.”

About Michaela Routledge, JMU Journalism