Child poverty: Kettering councillors vow to act

Some families have to use food banks like this one in Northampton Road, Kettering, to feed their children
Some families have to use food banks like this one in Northampton Road, Kettering, to feed their children

Kettering councillors whose wards have some of the highest levels of child poverty in the region have said they plan to learn from local families about how best to curb the problem.

Pipers Hill has the highest level in the borough, with more than a third of children living in poverty, as we revealed last week.

Children living in poverty are four times as likely to end up in poverty when they grow up.

Cllr Anne Lee

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that 34.14 per cent of the child population is classified as poor, after living costs have been taken into account.

Labour councillor for the ward, Anne Lee, believes that the solution lies in working with organisations which affect family income.

She said: “Children living in poverty are four times as likely to end up in poverty when they grow up and I believe that, as a council, we now have to adopt a pragmatic approach and focus on a multi-pronged approach to do everything we can to help those children.

“Networking between organisations to target the appropriate type of support to the right families, pro-active measures, affordable housing; these are all areas that we need to focus on.”

Highlighting the economic issues that stem from unreliable or poorly-paid jobs, she said: “According to the 2011 census, 29.6 per cent of Pipers Hill’s residents have no qualifications, compared with an average of 24.7 per cent in the East Midlands.

“These families are more likely to have jobs on zero-hour contracts, or to struggle to find affordable childcare and affordable housing.

“In my ward surgeries, I hope to identify the ways in which these families can be helped and I am looking forward to a meeting with Homestart in a few weeks to learn about their invaluable work.

“The action undertaken by the Labour Group last year against loan sharks was relevant, because poverty is often linked to a spiral of debt.

“Another factor,” she added, “can be mental illness, which has not been helped by gross under-funding in that area.”

Avondale Grange has almost a third of its child population living in poverty – 31.33 per cent after living costs, according to the ONS figures.

Labour councillor for the ward, Clark Mitchell, explained that the problem is evident in a high use of food banks in the borough.

He said: “We do need to bring more attention to this issue.

“I feel passionately that it is disgusting that, while living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we have a section of society that rely on food banks in order to feed their children and families.

“We need to support the struggling people in our society, not alienate them and categorise them as scroungers as some people do.”