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Suffolk: One child in five living in poverty

PUBLISHED: 01:00 20 February 2013

Geoff Prescott, CEO of the Ormiston Trust.

Geoff Prescott, CEO of the Ormiston Trust.

FIGURES that show one in five children in parts of Suffolk are living in poverty paint a “worrying” picture of deprivation, according to campaigners.

The Campaign to End Child Poverty has today published a report which reveals 22% of Ipswich and Waveney children – or 5,227 and 4,849 respectively – lived in poverty in 2012.

But Geoff Prescott, chief executive of Suffolk-based children’s charity Ormiston, said the survey is not an accurate reflection of the extent of child poverty in the county.

He said: “There are huge statistical underestimations in these surveys and in reality it is much, much worse. We are putting the next generation through financial deprivation. It is worrying.

“Over and over again we are hearing how hard life is for families. We are giving out more food parcels than ever. We even had a meeting this week about our stock levels.

“When you are out and about yourself you see and feel what it is like. Prices are going up and wages are either going down or stagnating. People are getting at the end of their tether.”

In Bury St Edmunds the number of children living in poverty dropped to 13% – 2,632 children – while in Suffolk Coastal it was 12% – or 2,589.

Meanwhile, in Babergh it was 13%, Forest Heath was 16%, and Mid Suffolk recorded the lowest rate with 10%.

A child is defined as living in poverty if their family receives out of work benefits or tax credits and their income is less than half that of the national average.

Mr Prescott said poverty can cause psychological damage to children while it can also curtail their chances of success.

He added: “Children are less likely to attain good qualifications, get good jobs and ultimately contribute less to society.

“It also adds to the stress parents are under which, with the stress of economic problems, can lead to domestic abuse which creates negative emotional development for the child – and numbers of this are going through the roof.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “The county council is committed to reducing the levels of child poverty in Suffolk.

“Suffolk County Council promotes a wide range of services that contribute to breaking the cycle of child poverty, including supporting parents to access free or affordable childcare so they can work or study.

“Families can also access financial inclusion officers and Job Centre Plus advisors through children’s centres, to ensure they are receiving the financial benefits that they are entitled to and help them find suitable employment.”

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