Town braces itself for child poverty hike

Child poverty is on the increase (image posed by an actress)
Child poverty is on the increase (image posed by an actress)
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WIGAN Council chiefs are drawing up battle plans to minimise a forecast further increase in child poverty.

Already one in five youngsters in the borough lives below the breadline, and Government tax, benefit and spending changes are expected to force more families to spiral into that category.

Nationally the predictions are that a further half million people will find themselves in poverty by 2015.

The council says it is currently assessing the key pressures facing Wigan families and says that teamwork is one of the keys to keeping destitution at bay.

Wigan’s director for children and families, Anne Goldsmith, said: “Our information tells us that in 2010, 20 per cent of children living in Wigan were living in poverty.

“Information published by the End Child Poverty Campaign estimates that in 2012 this figure was in line with the national average of 20.2 per cent and slightly lower than the regional average of 21 per cent.

“In response to the welfare reform changes, we have been measuring the likely impact on our residents, including consideration of families and child poverty.

“We are working with partners to ensure signposting is in place for residents to places that they can get help.

“In addition, the council has had to develop a new Council Tax Reduction Scheme to make up for the shortfall in government funding.

“Households with children under five have been protected from these changes.

“This year, through our Local Child Poverty Strategy, we will be working with our partners to tackle child poverty and ensure that it is everybody’s business at a local level.”

And with 10 per cent less funding, councillors say they are striving to do everything in their power to alleviate the effect of the cuts and help disadvantaged children.

Coun Susan Loudon, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Any government policy or actions that adversely impacts on the children of this borough is of great concern to us.

“Our borough, like the rest of the North, has felt the brunt of national decisions.

“Child poverty is a rising concern that we are trying to reduce with all our 
partners.

“This week’s announcement appears to be warning us that we have to deal with an increasing problem with 10 per cent less funding.

“As always, together we will try it find innovative ways of dealing with the problem in a fair and equitable manner.”