Ipswich/Felixstowe: One in four children now living in poverty

NEW figures paint shocking picture of deprivation in our neighbourhoods.

SHOCK figures today revealed that nearly one in four children in Ipswich and parts of Felixstowe are living in poverty.

And according to charities in the town, the situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

The most recent statistics, released by HM Revenue and Customs, paint an alarming picture of deprivation across Ipswich, with 22.6 per cent of youngsters under 16 living in poverty. In Felixstowe West, this figure is more than a quarter – 25.3pc.

The area with the highest percentage of children living in hardship – 33.3pc – is in Ipswich’s Gipping ward.

Brian Tobin, chief executive of Iceni Project, which launched a special family service earlier this year, said the demand has been much higher than expected – and he admitted the future looks bleak.

“We estimated we would have 100 families a year using our service, but we have had well over 230 this year already,” he said.

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“Most of our families have just �12 a day as their income and that is for everything.

“I cannot see it getting better over the next few years.”

Despite successive governments pledging to tackle the issue of child poverty, levels in Ipswich and Felixstowe have remained fairly static in recent years.

Iceni launched its family service in partnership with Home Start Babergh in April this year, with the idea of treating the symptoms of poverty and tackling problems faced by families in need.

The charity has found the demand for the service has far exceeded the expectation.

“We get families who can only afford to heat one room,” added Mr Tobin. “These people are not bad parents, they just simply don’t have enough money.

“We want to intervene early in these troubled families before the situation becomes a crisis.

“Family poverty can sometimes inadvertently lead to child neglect because of their inability to pay for the basic needs of their child.

“We have got to address these concerns now. We need the government to give these families hope, dignity and opportunities.”

The definition of poverty is the proportion of children living in families in receipt of out of work benefits or tax credits where their reported income is less than �251.40 per week.

Suffolk County Council also provides a range of services to help troubled families.

A spokesman 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 child care so they can work or study.

“The Health and Wellbeing Board is determined to ensure a joined up approach from all partners to give every child the very best start in life and reduce child poverty across the whole county.”

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