Published in the St Helens Star on Thursday, March 3 2011 (Page 3).
A LEADING children’s pressure group claims that 6,000 youngsters in St Helens are living in “severe poverty”.
Save the Children is urging the government to draw up an emergency plan as new figures reveal that 1.6 million children across the UK fall into this category.
The charity reckons 18 per cent of children in St Helens are suffering “deepest poverty”.
Sally Copley, Save the Children’s head of UK policy said: “Children are going to sleep at night in homes with no heating, without eating a proper meal and without proper school uniforms to put on in the morning.”
Single mums living on less than £7,000 a year, or a family of four living on less than £12,500 a year are just some of those living in poverty. These are parents going without, who may have to make the difficult decision of whether to eat or put the heating on to make sure their children don’t go without food and clothes.
Older boys and girls may have to share a room. Birthday parties or having a friend around for tea are out of the question, Save the Children reports.
In 2006, the End Child Poverty campaign released figures of the percentage of children who are living in families who are on out of work benefits, to estimate the regions where child poverty was highest.
According to the results, 22% of children in St Helens North were living in families where parents were receiving unemployment benefits. In St Helens South, the figure was 26%.
Councillor Eric Smith, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, who represents St Helens on the Liverpool City Region Poverty and Life Chances Commission, said: “These statistics prove that government cutbacks are affecting the poorer parts of the country including St Helens which still has pockets of deprivation.
“The council is currently putting together a far reaching action plan to set out ways it can tackle this serious issue for the benefit of families throughout our communities.”
Chair of the commission, Frank Field MP will be visiting the town next month to see how some schools are dealing with the issues of deprivation.