It is 2015, yet more than one in five children in Northamptonshire are living in poverty.
Figures released earlier in the year show that in Corby alone, 25 per cent of youngsters below the age of 16 live in a household which, after paying for housing, heating, food and essential clothing, has no disposable income.
We would throw our weight behind any campaign addressing this issue as it has many knock-on effects.Corby Council leader Tom Beattie
The numbers compiled by a coalition of more than 100 charities as part of the Campaign to End Child Poverty make for stark reading across the rest of the county as well.
In Northampton the survey, which took data over a two month period at the end of 2013, just over 24 per cent of young people to be in poverty, while there are 17 per cent in East Northamptonshire and 16 per cent in Daventry.
A further breakdown of the figures makes for even harder reading, particularly in urban areas.
The Central ward of Corby sees 37.65 per cent of young people living below the breadline, with Kingswood at more than 35 per cent.
But there are pockets of poverty throughout the county as well, in what might seem surprising places.
Irthlingborough Waterloo in East Northamptonshire sees a figure of 27 per cent, whereas Badby – a ward comprising of a cluster of rural villages outside of Daventry, Blisworth and Roade – has a figure of 23 per cent.
There are many ways to define child poverty in the UK But it is a term fraught with complications.
Critics argue poverty is a relative term – in that in relation to the rest of society there will always be a group of people in the lowest income bracket.
There are also different kinds of poverty.There is income poverty and educational poverty to name but two.
But few would deny they would be hard-pressed to live in what the government currently defines as ‘income poverty’.
The line is classed as any single parent of two children earning less than £264 per week or any couple with two children earning less than £357 per week.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies says, by these measurements, there could be 4.7 million children living in poverty by 2020 in the UK.
Poverty is a countywide problem – and something needs to be done.
With a new Government settling into place this week, we are asking our county’s MPs and local councils to back us in driving down the number of children in poverty over the next Parliamentary term.
Corby Council leader Tom Beattie said: “We would throw our weight behind any campaign addressing this issue as it has many knock-on effects.
“Poor health, linked to diet, is often associated with lack of money and leads to children who grow up with that underperforming in school, which then gives them a lesser chance in life and it becomes a cycle.
“Two years ago this council introduced the living wage for all employees to improve family income and encouraged local businesses to do the same – I would reiterate that call.
“But it’s also a government responsibility to support us.
“Politicians have been talking about devolving control over economic growth and skills development to local authorities and so I would encourage them to get on with that.”
Anthony Dady, who has recently been elected councillor for the town’s Central ward – which has the borough’s highest child poverty level at 37.65 per cent – said: “These figures are very worrying and need to be addressed. I would like to work in partnership with residents, hear from anyone who is knowledgeable about the local situation and look at putting together a committee to see what we can do about it.”
The provision of children’s services generally falls within the remit of Northamptonshire County Council, which last year outsourced the running of many of its children’s centres to national charity Action for Children.
One of its key approaches is to target causes of financial difficulty within families.
Laurie Long, the charity’s operational director of children’s services, said: “Money problems can be linked to other family issues – such as unemployment, changes in benefits, escaping domestic violence and gambling.
“Our children’s centres across Northamptonshire give parents somewhere to go for friendly, knowledgeable advice.
“I would encourage parents to get in touch and find out what support is on offer.”
Council backs our campaign
Over the course of our Fair Deal for Kids campaign all of our newspapers in Northamptonshire are uniting to look at the root causes of poverty and what can be done to tackle it.
We want to involve Northamptonshire’s new MPs, the borough and county councils, charities and employers across Northamptonshire – and we want to push those organisations to make changes.
But most importantly we want to know what you feel contributes to the stark poverty figures in our county, and what you feel needs to be done.
We might not be able to stamp out child poverty altogether but one thing is for certain, the figure of one in five children has to improve.
Northamptonshire County Council has given our campaign its backing and we hope to have more over the next few weeks.
A council spokesman said: “A range of advice and support services is now available to families in all our libraries, making it even easier for parents to get help and information.
“The Children and Families Early Help Partnership brings together key agencies involved in improving outcomes for children and families across Northamptonshire and all partners remain committed to reducing the effects of child poverty in this area.”