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4,705 children in York are living in poverty
NEARLY 5,000 children in York are living in poverty according to new figures – and the number is set to rise.
City leaders are now drawing up a new action plan to help those in the “hotspots”.
City of York Council figures show about one in eight of the city’s children – 4,705 or 13 per cent – are in poverty, and although the city as a whole is better off than the national average of 21 per cent, Clifton, Westfield and Hull Road are all worse off.
The council is now working with YorkOk and York Without Walls to launch the City of York Child Poverty Strategy 2011- 2020, aimed at tackling the problem over the next decade.
The draft strategy includes sections on education, health, family support, parental employment, skills and housing, and a final strategy will be launched later this year.
Coun Ruth Potter, who until last week was the council’s cabinet member for education, children and young people’s services, said: “People see York as an affordable city but there have always been areas that have been less affluent.”
She said York had lots of relatively low-paid jobs in the shopping and tourist sectors, and also said it was becoming more difficult for families to get benefits.
She said: “We have to work very hard because we are working against the tide - there are things happening at a national level that we have no control over. We need to make sure we do not disadvantage the same people.”
The council said single-parent families in York were especially susceptible to child poverty, with 82 per cent of one-parent families in Micklegate, 81 per cent in Westfield and 80 per cent in Haxby being classed as in poverty.
In the report, relative poverty is defined as those in households with an income below 60 per cent of the average, after housing costs have been paid.
In 2009/10, the poverty line was a weekly household income of £256 for a single parent with two children, or £348 for a couple with two children, according to the Child Poverty Action Group.
The council’s statistics show that unemployment had “increased significantly” in York, with workless households rising from 6.8 per cent in 2008 to ten per cent in 2009. There were 130 homeless households in the city in 2009-10, which included an estimated 85 children.
Nick Woodall, of the Centre For Separated Families in York, said while child poverty could be higher in separated families, poverty could also lead to family breakdown in the first place.
He said: “The economic profile of York has changed – used to be a fairly industrial town.
“The loss of those kind of traditional jobs may have reduced the potential for people to take up the kind of work that may have lifted them out of poverty in the past.
“In a fairly high-cost place like York, the daily financial struggles of families are likely to be exacerbated.”
The report said that child poverty in York was expected to rise by 2013 due changes to family tax credits and housing benefits.
York’s “poverty hotspots” were listed as Clifton, which has 27 per cent of children (585) in poverty; Westfield (25 per cent or 795 children); Hull Road (25 per cent, or 395 children); Heworth (21 per cent or 510 children); and Acomb (270 children).
To see the draft strategy, visit yor-ok.org.uk/childpoverty
Plan must work
ALMOST 5,000 York children live in poverty, figures reveal. That is shocking.
We pride ourselves on our wonderful city, but not everyone shares in York’s comparative wealth.
It is particularly distressing to see children affected by poverty and lack of opportunity. Their whole lives can be blighted.
The council has launched an action plan, which focuses on things like education, family support and employment opportunities for parents.
It sounds good. But the plan must be more than just words and good intentions. It must deliver. Too many children depend upon it.