New fear over child poverty
AS MANY as three children in every classroom in the town could be living in severe poverty, according to charity Save The Children.
The charity has estimated up to 4,000 youngsters, equivalent to one in 10, in Swindon are from families living on incomes of half or less of the average, which they define as severe poverty.
The international organisation has launched its first UK fundraising campaign after publishing a new report entitled It Shouldn't Happen Here this week after surveying more than 1,500 youngsters aged between eight and 16 and 5,000 parents nationwide.
The Swindon Labour group have called the figures a tragedy and urged Swindon Council and the Government to make the issue a top priority, while the Conservative administration has vowed to tackle the problem.
Coun David Renard , Swindon Council’s deputy leader and the Cabinet member for Children Services said: “We are working hard as a council to reduce child poverty, which in Swindon is lower than most other areas of the UK, and the second-lowest in the south west, according to the charity’s figures.
“The key to tackling child poverty is getting parents into work. Our Children’s Centres around the borough all have links to Job Centres, and we are working with employers and education providers to improve employment opportunities.
“We are aiming to reach all those most in need and are targeting our resources accordingly. “ Labour Group leader Jim Grant said: “It is a tragedy that any child has to grow up in severe poverty. And the worrying thing is the Government is set to make things worse, with cuts to tax credits, housing benefit and Council Tax benefit which support low-income families.
“Supporting these children and families has to be a top priority of Swindon Council and the Government.” South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said: “The Government has pledged to end child poverty by 2020, and is doing all it can to reach that target. But child poverty has been rising for years, including under the Labour government.
“We’ve put in place measures to help. These include tax changes which mean millions of less well-off families now pay no income tax at all.”
To donate to Save The Children’s bid to eradicate child poverty in the UK text POVERTY to 70008 to donate £5 or visit www.savethechildren.org.uk.