One in four children in the Colne Valley are now living in poverty.
The shock statistics have been released today by the Child Poverty Action Group and means that nearly 6,000 children in the Colne Valley constituency face poverty every day of their lives.
Households are classified as living in poverty if the household income (adjusted to account for household size) is less than 60% of the average.
Colne Valley MP and Education Committee member Thelma Walker said: “A recent response to my Parliamentary Question showed that in Kirklees over 7,200 primary and infant school aged children and more than 5,000 second school aged children are entitled to free-school meals and are taking them daily.
“It is shocking that 24% of children in the Colne Valley are living in poverty. We must do more to address the issue of hidden poverty. As a head teacher I saw first-hand the impact that poverty had on a child’s development and wellbeing. It can have a dramatic effect on the concentration levels of children in the classroom.”
She added: “With Central Government cuts to local authorities impacting on every school in the Colne Valley constituency there will be a further strain on a school’s ability to support families who are struggling.”
Sam Royston, who chairs End Child Poverty and is director of policy and research at the Children’s Society, said: “It is scandalous that a child born in some parts of the UK now has a greater chance of growing up in poverty, than being in a family above the breadline.
“There can be little doubt that the Government’s policy of maintaining the benefits freeze despite rising prices is a major contributor to the emerging child poverty crisis.
“No family in modern Britain should be struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes and clothe their children.
“End Child Poverty is calling on the Chancellor to end the freeze on children’s benefits, and to invest in interest free credit for low income families, to ensure that poverty doesn’t result in spiralling debt.”
A Government spokesman said: “The best route out of poverty is through employment, and since 2010 an extra three million more people are now in work and 600,000 fewer children are living in workless households.
“But we recognise that budgets are tight, and that’s why we’re helping families keep more of what they earn.
“We’ve doubled free childcare – worth £5,000 per child each year – while our £2.5 billion pupil premium programme is supporting two million disadvantaged schoolchildren across the country.”