What is being done to tackle concerning levels of child poverty in Derbyshire?

Figures have revealed concerning levels of child poverty across Derbyshire.
Child poverty affects thousands of children in Derbyshire.Child poverty affects thousands of children in Derbyshire.
Child poverty affects thousands of children in Derbyshire.

Data published by the End Child Poverty coalition show:

• 25 per cent of children in Amber Valley are in poverty

• 30.2 per cent of children in Bolsover are in poverty

Infographic created by Dean Mellor.Infographic created by Dean Mellor.
Infographic created by Dean Mellor.

• 27.7 per cent of children in Chesterfield are in poverty

• 21.1 per cent of children in the Derbyshire Dales are in poverty

• 25 per cent of children in Erewash are in poverty

• 22.3 per cent of children in the High Peak are in poverty

• 23.4 per cent of children in North East Derbyshire

'Simply unacceptable'

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Anna Feuchtwang, chair of the End Child Poverty coalition, said: "We know what causes child poverty and we know how to end it.

"We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs.

"And we know that work alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.

"Growing up in poverty means growing up trapped.

"It restricts a child's chances of doing well at school, of living a healthy and happy life, and of finding well paid work as adults.

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"We urgently need Government to set a course of action that will free our children from the grip of poverty."

Thomas Lawson, chief executive at Turn2us, a charity which helps people living in poverty, said: "Poverty means hunger - and children and young people unable to concentrate in school.

"It means being bullied for dirty clothes your family can't afford to wash.

"It means sleeping with your family in rooms designed for one in hostels and temporary accommodation.

"It's no childhood.

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"The growth in child poverty shows no sign of slowing down and if the Government is serious about fixing this they must respond to these statistics with an ambitious child poverty reduction strategy.

"We can eradicate child poverty.

"We cannot in good conscience live in a society where children grow up in grinding poverty.

"We can and must fix it to unleash the talent and potential of our next generation of leaders, parents, volunteers and amazing staff."

How have councils responded?

A Derbyshire County Council spokesperson said: "Working to protect vulnerable groups, including children, is a priority for the county council which is committed to helping Derbyshire's most vulnerable residents.

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"The county council invests more than £4million in providing advice and inclusion work across the county and supports the work of Feeding Derbyshire which is now led by Rural Action Derbyshire to address food poverty across the county.

"Through Fareshare, a charity that ensures surplus food reaches vulnerable groups, the county council funds 19 school holiday food projects to ensure children continue to eat well during the school holidays. This is part of the wider Feeding Derbyshire programme to protect vulnerable residents.

"The county council also spends £1m for the Citizens Advice Bureau to deliver advice and support sessions in a wide range of community venues including GP surgeries, children's centres and libraries and has its own welfare benefits information and advice team offering a range of services including free benefits checks.

"Most recently the county council approved just over £1million of funding to help improve the health and wellbeing of Derbyshire residents. The funding will support eight locality Health and Wellbeing Partnerships based in each district of Derbyshire."

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Councillor Jill Mannion-Brunt, Chesterfield Borough Council's cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "One of our key priorities is to improve the quality of life for local people and, as a council, we work hard with our partners to help support our residents who are living on low incomes.

"We support residents with benefits advice to make sure people can claim all the benefits they are entitled to.

"In addition we also support low income families through direct policy choices including a concessionary scheme at our leisure venues.

"Through the work of the council and our partners that support the borough's Health and Wellbeing Partnership we will continue to support agencies who work directly with families affected by low income.

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"In addition, following a motion passed by councillors at a meeting in February this year, we wrote to the Government urging for an end to austerity measures to bring more families out of poverty."

A spokesperson for Derbyshire Dales District Council said: "Our child poverty rates, on these figures, are the lowest in Derbyshire but nonetheless higher than we'd wish.

"The council's top priorities are jobs and housing for local people, and we have supported local firms to create jobs and enabled the provision of new affordable housing."

Councillor Martin Thacker, leader of North East Derbyshire District Council, said: "The council recognises the need to tackle child poverty.

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"As such the council has supported and instigated a number of projects, including commissioning advice agencies, to help vulnerable people access the help they need.

"Together with Chesterfield Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council, we have also helped fund the Family Loan Scheme, which has allowed many residents to access affordable credit and encourage saving money.

"Our Working Communities Project has helped unemployed people, or those facing redundancy, to find work.

"In addition, we support the health and wellbeing of our residents, such as Holmewood and Heath Healthy Futures Group and Shirland Healthy Futures Group.

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"Initiatives such as the council's new PALS (Physical Activity and Lifestyle Support) Programme will be supporting reducing health inequalities for residents in Clay Cross.

"The council offers affordable access to our leisure centres through a concessionary leisure pass scheme, we support the county council-run school swimming initiative where children receive free swimming across leisure facilities, and are one of very few authorities to offer free swimming for the under-fives.

"The council has also facilitated delivery of the Five 60 programme throughout primary schools across the district.

"This is aimed at educating youngsters on the benefits of eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and taking part in 60 minutes of exercise per day.

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"As a council we are not complacent about tackling child poverty and will be considering further support in due course."

Amber Valley Borough, Bolsover District, Erewash Borough and High Peak Borough councils did not comment when asked.

What has the Government said?

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said children growing up in working households were five times less likely to be in relative poverty, which was why it was supporting families to improve their lives through work.

"Statistics show employment is at a joint record high, wages are outstripping inflation and income inequality and absolute poverty are lower than in 2010," the spokesperson said.

"But we recognise some families need more support.

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"That is why we continue to spend £95billion a year on working-age benefits and provide free school meals to more than one million of the country's most disadvantaged children, to ensure every child has the best start in life."