Report:Newham has third worst child poverty

A quarter of all children in Newham are growing up in severe poverty, making it the third worst place in the country, according to a report.

The problem is so bad, with 1.6 million children nationally living in poverty, that the charity is calling on the Chancellor to draw up an emergency plan to tackle the problem which affects 14,000 youngsters in Newham.

For the first time Save the Children has provided a local authority breakdown of the figures. Manchester has the highest proportion, over 27 per cent, of children living in severe child poverty in the UK. However, the London borough of Tower Hamlets is a close second with 27 per cent.

Newham, at 25 per cent, is in the top ten worst affected place.

A spokesman for the charity said the levels of unemployment and the lack of well paid jobs were contributing factors behind the levels of poverty in Newham. Although there were things the local authority could do to alleviate the problem, the key driver for change was central government.

With increasing unemployment and cuts in welfare payments, the charity fears that even more children will be forced in to severe poverty in the coming months without urgent and concerted action.

Sally Copley, Save the Children’s head of UK policy, said: “Children up and down the country are going to sleep at night in homes with no heating, without eating a proper meal and without proper school uniforms to put on in the morning. No child should be born without a chance. It is a national scandal that 1.6 million children are growing up in severe poverty.”

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The charity wants George Osborne to announce an emergency plan in the next budget to channel new jobs into the poorest areas and increase financial support for low-income families, for example, by paying for more childcare costs so parents can work. It also wants to see the Government adopt its pioneering measurement of severe child poverty. It says a lone-parent family with one child aged under 14 in severe poverty is living on an income of less than �7,000 and a couple with two children under 14 is on less than �12,500.

But these families are also going without the things that many of us take for granted: separate bedrooms for older boys and girls, not being able to properly celebrate birthdays and not being able to build friendships by having children round for tea.

A Newham Town Hall spokesman said: “Newham has always been dedicated to ending child poverty.”

He pointed to free school meals for every primary pupil, and said the council aims to see children have the same opportunities as youngsters in more affluent areas.