28 February 2011

One in five children in Hammersmith living in severe poverty - and that's before the cuts bite

Six thousand children (that's one in five or 20%) in Hammersmith & Fulham are living in severe poverty and the situation could get worse as national benefits are reduced and local Tory cuts to services such as family support, childcare and Sure Start take hold.

Meanwhile, regular readers will recall that H&F Tory council is failing to engage with local firms, the engine of job creation. A survey last December by the Federation of Small Businesses revealed that the council needed to do more to "help deliver improvements for local residents, the business community and the development of the economy of west and central London.

Those planning the new triborough setup should note that in Westminster - which is ranked fifth worst in the country - 9,000 children (24%) are living in severe poverty. In Kensington & Chelsea, a further 6,000 children (19%) live in penury.

The figures are from from Save the Children and the Guardian, which  has broken down the data by borough.

Save the Children fears that, with unemployment rising and welfare changes reducing the value of benefits, the number of children living without the basics will rise unless action is taken. They are calling on the Chancellor to announce an emergency plan in the budget on 23 March to channel new jobs into the poorest areas and increase financial support for low-income families, for example by paying for more childcare costs so that parents can work. 

Note: Across the UK, 1.6m youngsters are living in severe poverty. The government defines severe poverty as a household which has half the average income (less than £12,500 for a family of four) and also suffers from material deprivation. For example, children can't take a holiday or invite friends home for tea and adults can't pay for repairs to fridges or afford insurance.

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