CAMPAIGNERS have urged the Government to tackle child poverty after new figures revealed a quarter of all children growing up in Malvern Hills were doing so below the breadline.
Research by End Child Poverty, the UK’s leading child poverty coalition, revealed an estimated 3,926 youngsters were growing up in poverty 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, Pickersleigh fares the worst in the district.
The research claims 771 youngsters in the area or 46 per cent of children are trapped in poverty with 280 children in the Chase ward facing life below the breadline.
Malvern has the second lowest rate of child poverty in Worcestershire according to the findings with only Bromsgrove worse off.
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-and 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: “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.”
“Growing up in poverty means growing up 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.
“We urgently need Government to set a course of action that will free our children from the grip of poverty,” she added.
In response, Malvern MP Harriett Baldwin said: “Work is the best route out of poverty and because of a strong job market and more free childcare there are 665,000 fewer children growing up in workless households.
“Low pay is also being tackled, with recent above inflation increases in the National Living Wage and increases in personal tax allowances meaning that people get to keep more of their pay.
“The percentage of children in absolute low income after housing costs remains at a record low, but of course one child in absolute low income is too many.
“We need to have a welfare system which helps families escape poverty through good work coaching and employment support.”