Child poverty rife in Norfolk

Parts of Norfolk have more than one in three children living in poverty, according to a new report.

The Campaign to End Child Poverty's new map aims to show the extent to which children are living below the poverty line - which is one in five in England (21.3pc).

In Norfolk one area - Nelson in Great Yarmouth - has just shy of half of its children living in poverty (47pc), while seven wards in Norwich, one in King's Lynn and two in Waveney have more than one in three living in poverty.

Today one Norfolk MP said the scale of child poverty was scandalous and it still needed to be a top priority, despite the challenging economic climate.

Groups working with families on the breadline say unemployment and mental health issues are among factors contributing to poverty, and giving families the skills and confidence to get back into work is at the heart of reducing deprivation.

Norwich's Wensum (39pc), Mile Cross (39pc), University (37pc), Mancroft (36pc), Crome (35pc), Bowthorpe (34pc) and Lakenham (34pc) are among the worst areas in the county for child poverty.

Others include Yarmouth's Central and Northgate (36pc), Southtown and Cobholm (36pc), Claydon (35pc) Magdalen (34pc) and Yarmouth North (32pc), as well as Thetford-Abbey (31pc) and King's Lynn's North Lynn (40pc), Fairstead (32pc) and South and West Lynn (32pc).

Most Read

Waveney's Normanston (37pc) and Habour (35pc) wards are also pockets of child deprivation.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said he was disappointed by the figures, but not surprised.

He said: 'We have got an area where at certain times of the year we have above average unemployment, because of seasonal work and an area where there are many second and third generation unemployed.'

Mr Lewis said he felt the new Welfare Bill was crucial in addressing some of these issues, as well as trying to ensure that Yarmouth can capitalise on the growing energy industry and bring more work to the area.

He said: 'At the moment too many people are encouraged not to work and it's a long term process of getting people back in to work.'

Community Connections focuses on improving the quality of life for disadvantaged, isolated and hard to reach people and groups across Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

Chief executive Trish Aydin said: 'We often come into contact with families on the breadline and they are often families where people have been unemployed for quite a long time.

'When people haven't worked for a long time they don't necessarily have all the skills that employers are looking for.'

She said it was important to help give families the skills, motivation and confidence they needed to re-enter the workforce.

Supporting families in crisis is also part of the work of Norfolk and Norwich Families' House, based in Ber Street in Norwich.

Director Suzanne Bryant said she felt that mental health was a large contributor to child poverty in the city, with 50pc of the parents they work with experiencing mental health problems.

She said: 'I think you end up having more people who are single parents with mental health problems and other disabilities in urban areas and that leads to a bigger cohort of people who are impacted by poverty.

'I think being able to really empower people, to give them the confidence to be able to make changes in their lives is so important.'

Norwich South MP Simon Wright, who hopes to quiz the Prime Minister over the issue in parliament today, said: 'It's scandalous that the levels of child poverty in Norwich have been so high for so long.

'The fact that the circumstances of a child's birth will dictate their opportunities in life is not fair and that has to change.'

Mr Wright said developing early years childcare, through Surestart, and improving education would help put children on the right path out of poverty.

The figures, which use tax credit data and trends in unemployment to estimate child poverty in mid-2010, represent the starting point from which the Government will embark upong its strategy to keep its promise of making British poverty history and ending child poverty by 2020.

In the next two weeks the chancellor and the prime minster will reveal Britain's budget and publish the Government's child poverty strategy, which aims to end child poverty by 2020.