Child poverty levels in Tower Hamlets are among the highest in the UK, with thirteen thousand children affected, new figures have revealed
The study, by Save the Children, found that twenty-seven per cent of children in Tower Hamlets live in severe poverty, slightly less than in the worst area, Manchester. London boroughs Hackney, Newham and Westminster were also in the top ten worst affected places.
Sally Copley, Save the Children’s head of UK policy said: “Children up and down the country are going to sleep at night in homes with no heating, without eating a proper meal and without proper school uniforms to put on in the morning. No child should be born without a chance. It’s a national scandal that 1.6 million children are growing up in severe poverty.”
Save the Children expressed their fear that with increasing unemployment and cuts in welfare benefits, even more children will be forced to live in severe poverty in the coming months. The charity has urged the Chancellor to commit to an emergency plan in the coming months to alleviate the difficulties Britain’s poorest people face.
Copley continued: “At the moment, these children are hidden from official view, and their plight unrecognised. If these children are to have a future, we must acknowledge their desperate need and urgently target government help towards them.”
According to Save the Children, a lone-parent family with one child aged under 14 in severe poverty survives on an income of less than £7,000 and a couple with two children under 14 is on less than £12,500.
A Tower Hamlets spokesperson said the authorities are committed to tackling child poverty and said that Tower Hamlets has made “significant progress in tackling poverty in recent years”.
Mayor Lutfur Rahman said that the figures from Save the Children are a “timely reminder” of challenges Tower Hamlets face:
“We know only too well the impact that poverty can have on the lives of children; blighting their education, health and potentially harming their prospects of finding employment. But we are also proud of the great strides we have taken to address the problem here in Tower Hamlets. Together with our partners, we have tackled it head on and have actually seen the biggest reduction in the country,”
Tower Hamlets say there has been a 42 per cent reduction in teenage pregnancy rates over the last ten years, and that the borough now has its lowest ever proportion of young people not in education, employment, or training.
The borough has set out an action plan to continue their action against child poverty. The aims are improving aspiration amongst young people, helping parents and carers into work, helping families access financial support, and improving living environments.