6,000 Weston children live in poverty
PUBLISHED: 07:19 08 February 2018 | UPDATED: 07:19 08 February 2018
Thousands of Weston-super-Mare children ‘are being denied happy childhoods and a good start in life’ with as many as four in 10 living on the breadline.
Figures collated by the End Child Poverty (ECP) coalition have revealed 5,800 children in the Weston parliamentary constituency live in poverty, after housing costs, as families feel the squeeze of tax hikes and benefit freezes.
A quarter of children across the town live in financially-challenged homes, with more than 1,300 youngsters, equalling 43 per cent, growing up below the poverty line in South ward.
A third of children in Central ward live in deprivation, but in more affluent areas in the North Somerset, like Nailsea, Clevedon and Portishead, as few as one in 20 children are raised poverty according to the EPC.
Chairman Dr Sam Royston believes ‘no family in modern Britain should be struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes and clothe their children’.
He said: “We are calling on the Government 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.
“There can be little doubt the Government’s policy of freezing benefits despite rising prices is a major contributor to the emerging child poverty crisis.”
And North Somerset councillor Mike Bell fears the chasm between Weston’s rich and poor could widen, plunging more children into poverty.
Central ward representative Cllr Bell, chairman of Weston Central Children’s Centre’s partnership board, said: “Any child living in poverty is one too many. North Somerset, like the rest of Britain, is not an area that works for everyone.
“In every community, there are children being denied the happy childhoods and a good start in life other children take for granted.”
Cllr Don Davies told a council meeting in January, where a rise in council tax was agreed, North Somerset is the third-most unequal local authority area in the country, and Cllr Bell fears the number of families struggling to cope could grow.
He added: “Many families, who are just about managing today, won’t be managing tomorrow when Government schemes like Universal Credit leave them with fewer pounds in their pocket, and if rising costs of living thanks to cuts to council tax support by the council mean their money doesn’t stretch as far as it used to.”