ONE in five Wigan children is living in poverty.
And while local politicians and council chiefs challenge TUC predictions that this could rise to more than half of all of the borough’s youngsters in just three years’ time, they acknowledge they are facing a major social challenge.
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: “It is scandalous in a country as rich as the UK that almost 20 per cent of Wigan children currently live in poverty and go to school hungry.
“If the Government can find tax cuts for millionaires, it beggars belief that they cannot take action to tackle the scourge of child poverty. It’s time they got their priorities in order.”
Wigan Council’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 had remained the same but was in line with the national average of 20.2 per cent and slightly lower than the regional average of 21 per cent.
“Wigan Council and our partners are working together to focus on child poverty locally.
“We are all committed to ensuring that sufficient time and resources are available to fulfil duties under the Child Poverty Act March 2010 and make a real difference to outcomes.
“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.”
The conclusions of the TUC’s far more doom-laden research are being challenged by critics including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), on which the TUC’s work is based.
Daniel Wright of the JRF said The TUC’s report is “not our version” of the research.
He said he was surprised when he heard of the TUC’s paper and suggested the interpretation was based on the JRF’s work. Nonetheless, the Government is committed to reducing child poverty in line with the Child Poverty Act March 2010.
It has set itself a challenging target to end child poverty by the year 2020.U