Tackling the issue of children in poverty

Library picture
Library picture

It is 2015, yet more than one in five children in Northamptonshire are living in poverty.

Figures released earlier in the year show that across the Daventry district 15.94 per cent of youngsters live in a household which, after paying for housing, heating, food and essential clothing, has no disposable income.

Countywide the figure stands even higher.

The numbers compiled by a coalition of more than 100 charities as part of the Campaign to End Child Poverty make for stark reading across the rest of the county as well.

In Northampton the figure stands at 24 per cent, and in South Northamptonshire the figure is 12 per cent.

But the district-wide figures hide pockets of poverty.

In Daventry district higher levels of child poverty are present on Hill Ward (at 23.6 per cent) which covers Lang Farm and the Southbrook in Daventry.

Abbey South, covering the town centre and homes off London Road, had child poverty levels of 21.3 per cent.

The data defines the poverty level as being unable to afford anything more than the essentials of things like basic food, clothes and bills.

In terms of children this could lead to them having few toys or learning materials like books and educational toys at home, few chances for days out to experience the wider world or learn and play in new places.

It may mean parents struggle to provide a balanced diet or a warm and healthy home – all of which can impact on a child’s long-term health, education and social skills, potentially impacting on them for the rest of their lives.

In the wider district the only area above 20 per cent was the ward covering Badby, Newnham, Staverton, Catesby and Hellidon where the figure stood at 23.2 per cent.

Poverty is a countywide problem – and something needs to be done.

Which is why this week the Daventry Express is joining our colleagues across Northamptonshire in launching our Fair Deal for Kids campaign.

With a new government settling into place this week, we are asking our county’s MPs to back us in driving the number of children in poverty down over the next term in parliament.

Daventry’s MP Chris Heaton-Harris has lent his support to the campaign, saying: “No one wants people to be living in poverty.

“There are many different measures of poverty, and that is a difficulty for politicians. The figures here are relative poverty, so hopefully these people are not going without food. But it is not good all the same.

“One of the best ways to tackle poverty, and one of the reasons I stood as an MP, is to bring about a better economy for the local area and nationally.

“Locally we have some fantastic organisations that can help people in poverty – Action for Children are working with families that have greatest need to provide them with basic services and help them access the support and benefits they are entitled to.

“We have the amazing Daventry Food Bank, which not only supplies food to local people, but also supports other food banks as well. There’s Churches Together and HomeStart and a whole list of others too who work to support those in greatest need locally and provide the essentials were needed.

“So we have a good safety net locally.

“Where I can help over the next five years of this Government is to try and keep pushing for economic growth to help lift children and others out of this bracket.”

But Mr Heaton-Harris also said more work is needed to be done to help people before they fell into poverty as well.

He said: “At the moment once you’ve been identified as being in poverty a host of services become available. But it’s when someone’s had something go wrong in their life and they’re falling towards poverty, that’s when we need to try and catch them but that’s far from easy.

“Many people out of a sense of pride find it difficult to ask for help – I know I would.

“It needs trust between the individual, families, and the state and community for it to work better.

“It could be stigma, or general pride and really not wanting to take help from the state, even when it is available.

“If people do know of friends or family in trouble then they shouldn’t be afraid of asking that person if they can support them in contacting organisations or speaking to the council. There is no harm in caring about your friends.”