One in five children live under the poverty line

ONE in five children in Calderdale lives in child poverty, new figures reveal.

The Campaign to End Child Poverty published results of a survey on family incomes across the UK to create a map of child poverty.

It shows in Calderdale, 20 per cent of children are in families claiming out-of-work benefits.

A breakdown of the figures for Calderdale’s wards showed the disparity between rich and poor across the area.

Park ward had the highest levels of child poverty, with 38 per cent of children living below the poverty line.

The lowest figure was for Northowram and Shelf ward, with six per cent.

Other ward percentage figures were: Brighouse – 14, Calder – 12, Elland, 18, Greetland and Stainland – 11, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe – nine, Illingworth and Mixenden – 28, Luddenden Foot – 12, Ovenden – 36, Rastrick – 15, Ryburn – 12, Skircoat – eight, Sowerby Bridge – 19, Todmorden – 20, Town – 21 and Warley – 26.

Calderdale’s overall figure of 20 per cent was just below the England average of 20.9 per cent.

Bradford had the highest levels in West Yorkshire, with 26 per cent, and Harrogate had the lowest, with eight per cent. Kirklees also had a figure of 20 per cent of children.

A child poverty target has been set to reduce rates to 10 per cent or lower by 2020.

Alison Garnham, executive director of the campaign, said: “Child poverty costs us billions picking up the pieces of damaged lives and unrealised potential, so it’s a false economy if we don’t prioritise looking after children today.

“The government urgently needs a serious plan to stop the rise in unemployment and to create jobs so that young people and parents can get out of the dole queue and into the workplace.

“We need a plan to target investment through the family purse to stimulate the economy, so that shops, services and businesses get the customers they need to stay afloat and recruit staff.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that child poverty will rise by 400,000 children by 2015 unless the government takes a more progressive approach to tackling the deficit.

Calderdale Council spokeswoman for children and young people’s services, Coun Megan Swift, said the figures were deeply disturbing.

“These facts matter, both to individual families and to our whole community,” she said.

“Poverty shortens lives and limits people’s opportunities. Children in poorer families are more likely to suffer chronic diseases, more likely to die in an accident, and they are likely to leave school at 16 with fewer qualifications.

“I’m determined that Calderdale Council does all it can to focus on raising opportunities for all children, but especially those in the most challenging circumstances.