ONE in five children in Wigan is living below the poverty line, says a new report.
The figures, released by the Child Poverty Action Group, show that the borough is on level terms with the national average and rates have remained constant since last year.
However, several areas in Wigan continue to cause concern with significantly higher rates of children living in poverty. Ince and Pemberton top the borough’s worst-affected list with 35 per cent.
Meanwhile Douglas, Leigh West and Atherton also had child poverty levels of higher than 30 per cent.
Council chiefs acknowledged that the figures were of grave concern but were no longer a surprise.
Deputy leader and Ince representative Coun David Molyneux, said: “It’s upsetting when we hear these figures but it is not a shock. We’re hearing things like this more and more, people are struggling and once the benefits changes happen in April it may get worse.
“I do get concerned, particularly for my own patch. We need to do everything we can as a local authority along with our other service partners to do our best for these children and their families.
“People are now waking up to the fact that things are going to change dramatically – food banks are growing rapidly – I just wish the Government would look at these figures and act accordingly.”
Children are classed as living in poverty if their family receives out-of-work benefits or in-work tax credits where their income is less than 60 per cent of the national average.
The report states this is the level that families struggle to cover bills or afford basic foods.
In contrast to the borough’s worst affected wards, Wigan also has areas where poverty levels are into single figures, such as Orrell, Standish with Langtree and Winstanley.
Inner city areas of Liverpool and Manchester ranked as the worst affected in the region, both cities having poverty levels of more than 30 per cent.
Barnardo’s Anne Marie Carrie, said: “The life chances of millions of children are being compromised by our nation’s failure to tackle child poverty effectively.
“The Government must act now by providing practical help to the people who need it most, taking steps to bring down energy bills, tackle family debt, and make childcare more affordable.”
Wigan borough 20%
Winstanley below 5%
Standish w/ Langtree 9%
Lowton East 10%
Shevington w/ Lower Ground 10%
Wigan Central 11%
Astley-Mosley Common 12%
Hindley Green 12%
Aspull-New Springs-Whelley 14%
Golborne and Lowton West 20%
Wigan West 20%
Leigh South 21%
Leigh East 21%
Worsley Mesnes 23%
Leigh West 31%