Child poverty levels in some of the east coast’s poorest wards are among the worst in Britain, new figures have revealed.
The End Child Poverty campaign’s latest report has highlighted a wide disparity between poverty rates across the nation, which is clearly evident in East Lindsey.
Although the district’s 19 per cent level is marginally better than the national average of 20, the proportion of impoverished children living in certain coastal wards is more than twice as high.
A shocking 42 per cent of Ingoldmells children live in poverty - the district’s highest figure, which is proportionally worse than many inner city areas including Glasgow, Hackney and Liverpool.
Lincolnshire County Council’s ward holder for Ingoldmells Rural Coun Colin Davie said it was unacceptable that any child should be subjected to poverty in modern Britain and a high priority for his authority to resolve.
In Skegness - St Clement’s, Scarbrough and Winthorpe wards also scored poorly, with 28, 30 and 25 per cent respectively, as did Wainfleet and Friskney with 30 per cent.
The Mayor of Skegness Coun Mark Anderson fears the figures are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and likely to worsen with changes to the benefits system.
He fears the coast’s low wage job market and high levels of seasonal unemployment will mean many more people are drawn into poverty when housing benefit is reduced and the so called bedroom tax introduced in April.
“The new child poverty statistics are very concerning - Skegness is a low wage area, highly dependent on being topped up with benefits, which, if the government continues to cut, will have an even worse effect,” he said.
More than half of the parents in poverty surveyed in the report said they had cut back on food and more than a quarter had gone without a meal due to a lack of money.
Others surveyed said their child had missed out on school trips or new clothing because of poverty and the vast majority had been forced to borrow money to pay for essentials.
Sylvia Myers, who leads a scout group in Skegness and has been involved with plans to revive the town’s youth centre, says she has noticed families becoming poorer over recent years, which she has also attributed to the wider economic problems facing the coast.
Without employment opportunities, she fears the youth will grow increasingly disaffected with society and face greater hardship than previous generations.
She said: “I think the youth struggle more today than their parents had to - youth unemployment is a massive issue in this town.”
Wards in Alford and Chapel St Leonards also feature higher than average child poverty rates with 23 per cent each.
Commenting on the national figures, Enver Solomon, Chair of the End Child Poverty campaign said: “The child poverty map reveals the depth and breadth of child poverty across the country showing the gross levels of inequality that children face in every region.
“Far too many children whose parents are struggling to making a living are having to go hungry and miss out on the essentials of a decent childhood that all young people should be entitled to.
“The huge disparities that exist across the country have become more entrenched and are now an enduring reality as many more children are set to become trapped in long term poverty and disadvantage.
“Local authorities are having to deal with reduced budgets but they have critical decisions to make. We’re calling on authorities to prioritise low income families in the decisions they make about local welfare spending, including spending on the new council tax benefit, and on protecting families hit by the bedroom tax.
“This week we have written to local authority leaders in the local authorities with the most child poverty, asking them what they will do to tackle child poverty in their local area.”