Berkshire news Whitley charity warns families are struggling as child poverty increases PremierLeague-News.Com
PremierLeague-News.Com - Even before coronavirus hit, one in every eight children in Berkshire was living in poverty, statistics have shown
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! A Berkshire charity leader says a rising number of families who have "never asked for help in their lives" are falling on hard times because of the pandemic - as figures reveal thousands of children in the county are struggling in poverty. The latest government figures have revealed that there were 28,897 children living below the breadline in Berkshire in March 2020, even before the cost of housing was taken into account. The number has been rising year on year, having increased from 21,163 kids in March 2015 - and charities warn that it will rise further due to the pandemic. The figures mean that even before coronavirus hit, one in every eight children in Berkshire was living in poverty. The figure ranges from seven per cent in Wokingham to 21 per cent in Slough. Meanwhile, analysis of hyperlocal data - areas with a population of around 1,500 people each - shows that the situation is even more stark in particular neighbourhoods. In several neighbourhoods in Slough, shockingly more than one in every three children is thought to be living in poverty. The figures include teenagers up to the age of 19 who are still living at home with their parents or carers and are in full-time education or training. The proportions are estimates based on DWP figures on the number of children living in families with a household income of less than 60 per cent of the UK average as of March 2020, and population estimates from the Office for National Statistics as of mid-2019. A charity has warned of a rise in people deemed to be 'just about managing'. (Image: South Wales Echo) As such, they can only offer an approximation of the proportion of children living in poverty - but they do give a broad indication of local areas with a very high or very low proportion. Meanwhile, as the government only publishes local data on child poverty before housing costs, in some cases these figures are likely an underestimate of the number of children living in poverty - particularly in areas with high rents. Trisha Bennett, community development co-ordinator at Whitley Community Development Association, which runs a surplus food project for people in need, said her organisation had noticed a "big rise" in individuals who were "just about managing". "Even pre-Covid, we had a lot of people who were holding down two jobs, just trying to bounce above the benefit threshold," she said. "That then means we have children in poverty because parents are then fighting to just keep enough money coming in to pay the bills. "We class them all the time as the 'forgotten'. People on benefits are easily visible.
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. "The number is growing, not diminishing, at the moment," she said. "Just in Whitley we have quite a high proportion of people who are still struggling, and more who are struggling for the first time in their lives. There isn't enough awareness of the people who are just about managing. Especially with furlough, if you were just managing on 100 per cent, if you were cut to 80 per cent, what do you not spend or pay from that 20 per cent?" Tricia added: "The strangest thing that the last year has done is brought an awful lot of people who would never have classed themselves as a 'have not' perhaps into that field for the first time ever - people who had a comfortable lifestyle. We've had people come to our service who've never asked for help in their lives before." A spokeswoman for Slough Borough Council said: "The council and its partners have been looking at ways to tackle in particular, food poverty in Slough. "A council report has recommended ways to achieve this and Cabinet will be receiving their first update on progress in next week’s session."
In response to the figures, Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “The statistics reflect the situation prior to Covid. We have since increased our support with an unprecedented package of measures targeting those with the lowest incomes to help families through a difficult year – including by injecting billions of pounds into the welfare safety net, ending the benefits freeze, helping with housing costs and increasing the national living wage. Crucially, furlough has also saved millions of jobs and protected livelihoods. “Our relentless focus as we build back better is on getting Britain back on its feet through our multi-billion pound Plan For Jobs, which is already delivering for people of all ages right across the country.” As of March 2020, there were 23,217 children in Berkshire living below the poverty line despite one or more of their parents working - 80 per cent of the total number in poverty, and up from 16,008 in 2015. The coalition says this is evidence that despite what the government says, work is simply not the answer. Cuts and freezes to children’s benefits over the past 10 years have been exacerbated by the introduction of the benefit cap and the two child limit. They want to see the government end these policies, as well as strengthening children’s benefits and tackling low pay, high rents and high costs of childcare. Cemetery Junction arch artist's impression shows how it could be transformed into arts hub How much Banksy's Reading Gaol escaping prisoner artwork is worth, according to expert
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