An awful statistic: 23% of Shepway children in poverty

March 3, 2013

Shepway Green Party is deeply concerned about the rise in child poverty in the area, following the release of statistics that show Shepway to be worse than the national average.  The national figure is 20.2% of children living in poverty, a truly appalling statistic. But Shepway is one of six Kent council areas that are higher than this. When this is combined with the fact that every district in Kent now has a Food Bank to feed the hungry, it is a damning indictment on the way this government views the poorest in our society.

foodThe percentage is predicted to rise even further in the immediate future. Steve Dawe of Kent Green Party comments: “Coalition cuts and poor wages are driving up child poverty”. The recent report of the End Child Poverty coalition shows the proportion of children in each of our council areas in Kent currently living in poverty, with Shepway at 23%. End Child Poverty is a coalition of 100 charities. The report can be accessed here:

Shepway Green Party does not believe that making the poorest suffer is acceptable. Our tax system could be used to collect more revenue from corporations, banks and the richest households; anything else is a gross injustice. Tax alternatives include raising cigarette, alcohol, petrol, diesel duties; raising Air Passenger Duty; adding more council tax bands at the top of the scale; shutting all tax havens operating on UK controlled territories.

The next body blows to poor families will be the Bedroom Tax, which could lead to evictions and poverty for many of Shepway’s poorest families, and the benefit cap, with these both coming on top of recent council tax benefits cuts. The Bedroom Tax, to be introduced in April, is on families who live in social housing wherethe government believes they have a spare bedroom. April also sees the introduction of the £500 a week benefit cap.

Martin Whybrow of Shepway Green Party says: “The gap between the richest and poorest in the country is becoming ever wider. The child poverty statistics and the rise of food banks reflects this, while imminent legislation will only worsen the divide. It is a wholly immoral state of affairs.”

The percentages of child poverty for Kent and Medway according to the End Child Poverty report are:

Ashford                18%
Canterbury          20%
Dartford             19%
Dover                22%
Gravesham            22%
Maidstone            17%
Medway             23%
Sevenoaks            14%
Shepway             23%
Swale                25%
Thanet                28%
Tonbridge and Malling        15%
Tunbridge Wells        14%

Enver Solomon, chairman of the End Child Poverty campaign said: “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.”

Child poverty is defined as households surviving on less than 60 per cent of the average wage.