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New survey reveals children's deprivation

The Evening Post lays bare the shocking scale of child poverty in Preston.

Half of all children in the city are living in families suffering from financial deprivation, a depressing report has revealed.

An estimated 15,380 youngsters are part of families on the breadline.

The Campaign to End Child Poverty report defines children in poverty as children living in homes where all occupants work less than 16 hours a week, or not at all, or where the full amount of working tax credit is being claimed.

The city is one of the most severely affected areas of the North West outside Liverpool and Manchester, with 21% of children in the city living in households which are completely workless and a further 29% in families struggling to get by with working tax credits.

And in some areas of Preston, more than three quarters of children live below the poverty line.

Single mum Lauren Hopkins, 21, of Dalmore Road, Ingol, has an 11-month-old son and gets less than 90 a week in benefits.

She was turned away from a recent job interview because she is seven months' pregnant.

She said: "I have got my TV licence to pay, water, gas, electric and I have got food on top of that, baby milk, nappies. It is tough, they want more off you than you receive."

Asked if the Government should be doing more to help people in her predicament, she added: "Definitely. There's a lot more to be done."

The two worst affected areas of Preston are the Deepdale and St George's wards, where 1,485 (75%) and 930 (77%) of children respectively are said to be living in poverty.

St George's ward councillor Taalib Shamsuddin branded the figures "appalling" and said areas with high ethnic minority population were often badly affected.

He said: "I think (large ethnic minority populations) are a factor. There is poor planning when it comes to delivering services to ethnic minorities."

Denise Hartley, director of the Intag drop-in centre in Ingol, which has 915 children living in poverty, said: "We are aware that within the Ingol area there are problems of high unemployment and a lot of people on long-term incapacity.

"The figures of 60% I am quite surprised. This sort of thing can be hidden."

Gordon Wang, of the Ingol Community Association, said a lot of work has been done to improve the area, but added: "We have got a problem. It is not as prevalent as you might imagine but it does need addressing."

Elsewhere in the county the picture is little better.

In Lancaster 44% of children, around 11,680, are said to be living in poverty and a further 7,410 (32%) in South Ribble.

Another 7,290 children are said to be living in poverty in Chorley (33%), 9,680 in West Lancashire (40%) 4,500 (32%) in Fylde and 2,900 (25%).