Blackpool is among the worst levels of child poverty in Lancashire

Thousands of children are still living on the breadline in Blackpool, which has one of the worst levels of child poverty in Lancashire, new figures reveal.

Monday, 14th November 2016, 9:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:02 pm
Child poverty is recorded as affecting almost a quarter of Lancaster district children in new statistics.

The latest report by campaign group The End Child Poverty Coalition shows 46 per cent of children living in Park ward, which includes Grange Park, are living in poverty - the highest level in the county.

In the Blackpool South parliamentary constituency 6,668 children (36 per cent), and in Blackpool North and Cleveleys 5,449 children (32 per cent), are trapped in a hand-to-mouth existence.

Experts in the town today said cuts in public funding were hitting hard-up families, but said steps were being taken to create brighter prospects for children.

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The NSPCC-led Better Start project received £45m of Lottery funding in 2014 to break the cycle of poverty in pre-school children.

Merle Davies, director of the Centre for Early Child Development in Blackpool, said: “Due to central government cuts to local services, Blackpool families have been disproportionately affected and therefore it has been important the public services have been working together, as a Better Start partnership with parents, to make the best use of the monies available for our youngest children.

“Over the past 12 months the Better Start funding has, in consultation with parents, helped to redesign parks and open spaces across the town.

“In Grange Park, a new play zone is in place. Working closely with the Salvation Army and Helping Hands, Baby Rover has been created, a service for parents where they can access 10 items of baby clothing for £1.

“We’ve managed to create 20 new jobs and a further seven are planned, many of them parents of young children, and we will be going out to tender.

“Our Winter Advocacy event last December helped parents access practical support during the Christmas period. Another event will take place this year on December 9 at the Salvation Army.

“Over the next few years we will be measuring the impact these initiatives have.”

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet secretary at Blackpool Council, said the figures came as no surprise.

He added: “Blackpool has very high levels of poverty, it is well-documented and yet the Tory government over the past six years has insisted on targeting Blackpool with some of the most brutal cuts in the country whilst some of the most affluent parts of the country have hardly been touched.

“This is why we have focused so much on trying to give our kids the best start in life. Despite the cuts, we have kept open every children’s centre in the town and introduced the free breakfast scheme.”

The figures reveal 3,863 children are living in poverty in Lancaster and Fleetwood including 24 per cent of those in the Wyre Council area.In Rossall, the figure is 39 per cent. Fleetwood and Lancaster MP Cat Smith described the figures as “shocking.”

She added; “It’s clear that low pay, insecure work and the lack of affordable housing are taking their toll on UK families and the children of this country are suffering as a result.”