A quarter of children in the borough 'living in poverty'

Wigan children are living in poverty
Wigan children are living in poverty

More than a quarter of children are living in poverty in some parts of Wigan, shock new figures reveal.

Data released by HM Revenue and Customs highlights the sheer volume of people living below the breadline, with a massive 15 per cent of local youngsters on average living in low-income families.

The report is based on the number of minors living in households receiving child tax credits whose reported income is less than 60 per cent of the median income in the UK.

HMRC has broken the figures down into wards, listing Leigh West as the most deprived area, with 26.5 per cent of children classed as “impoverished”.

In comparison, only 3.5 per cent of families with children were living in poverty in Winstanley during 2015, from when the latest figures date.

Some of the most impoverished wards include Douglas, Atherton, Abram, Ince and Pemberton, which all have rates of poverty higher than 20 per cent.

Wigan’s most five most affluent areas, excluding Winstanley, are listed as Orrell, Standish with Langtree, Lowton East, Astley Mosley Common and Shevington with Lower Ground, where less than 10 per cent of families are classed as below the breadline.

The council has said it is consistently working to develop ways to help deprived children and families in Wigan and Leigh.

James Winterbottom, director for children’s services, said: “Our Start Well programme, which was launched in 2016, is designed to transform services for families to give children the best start in life.

“Offering targeted support for those families that need it most, alongside the services that families told us they valued. It also draws on the wealth of community support already available for people across the borough, making it easier to access services closer to home.

“Our Start Well teams provide families with support around debt and money management, housing and benefits along with a programme of activities that support healthy eating on a budget and access to physical activity and play sessions in their communities.

“This approach was praised in the recent Ofsted inspection, where the Council’s Children’s Services were rated as good.”

The average number of children living in poverty in the UK was 16.6 per cent at the time of the survey.

Across all 25 Wigan wards, 15 of these were lower than the UK average and the remaining areas were higher.

Mr Winterbottom added: “We have community deal workers who work in local communities to support young children and families in many aspects of their life, linking them with facilities in their communities, who deliver our Fit and Fed initiative.

“The Fit and Fed programme allows us to work closely with Inspiring healthy Lifestyles, Fur Clemt, Wigan Youth Zone, Wigan Athletic and Warriors Community Trust and also the Music

Project to stop children suffering from holiday hunger, isolation, and inactivity through a range of different activities.

“There have been some really positive outcomes from the first year of this project including delivery in nine disadvantaged communities, more than 400 hours of activities delivered to young people aged five to 14 years, over 5,000 lunches provided to young people and their families. There were also more than 50 volunteers recruited and 450 people attended the National Play Day.

“Our schools also provide valuable support to children and families alongside an excellent education. Over 90 per cent of our primary schools are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.”

Thousands of public sector workers in the Wigan borough are being pushed into poverty due to pay caps, tax and benefit changes.
According to a new report from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), more than £43m of wages were lost in Wigan, Makerfield and Leigh constituencies in 2016/17.

There are currently more than 16,000 full-time public sector employees across the borough, many of whom are becoming impoverished due to the monumental financial losses.

An estimated 52,000 children in the north west with a parent working in the public sector are thought to be living in poverty as a result.

The research also shows that by April 2018, one in seven children in the UK in public sector working families will be living below the official poverty line as a result of the changes.

The average north west public sector worker today earns £2,695 less than if their pay had risen in line with inflation (CPI).

Lynn Collins, TUC regional secretary for the North West, said: “The Government’s pay restrictions and in-work benefit cuts have caused needless hardship all over the UK.

“Public servants shouldn’t have to worry about feeding or clothing their kids, yet many are struggling to afford even the basics.

“Ministers must give nurses, teachers and other public sector workers the pay rise they have earned or more families will continue falling into poverty.”

Wigan borough wards from the highest prevalence of child poverty to the lowest:

Winstanley 3.5%

Orrell 5.0%

Standish with Langtree 6.8%

Lowton East 7.3%

Astley Mosley Common 7.4%

Shevington with Lower Ground 7.9%

Ashton 8.8%

Hindley Green 8.9%

Wigan Central 9.7%

Aspull New Springs Whelley 10.5%

Tyldesley 12.5%

Bryn 13.4%

Atherleigh 15.3%

Wigan West 16.2%

Leigh South 16.5%

Golborne and Lowton West 17.1%

Leigh East 17.2%

Worsley Mesnes 18.3%

Hindley 19.1%

Douglas 23.0%

Atherton 23.1%

Abram 23.2%

Ince 24.8%

Pemberton 25.2%

Leigh West 26.5%