MORE than 1,600 children in Burnley are living in poverty, according to a shocking new report.
Almost one in every three youngsters in the town are living below the poverty line, according to grim statistics released by End Child Poverty.
Charity chiefs say children in the town are going hungry as cuts bite and parents struggle to make a living.
Burnley’s child poverty rate currently stands at 28% – 1,640 out of 5,857 children – according to a map of Britain’s poorest areas complied by the national charity – a drop of 1% from 2011.
But the percentage of youngsters living on the breadline is still around 10% higher than the national average and is among the highest in the North-West outside big cities like Manchester and Liverpool.
Around 40% of children are growing up poor in some wards of Burnley including Trinity, Bank Hall and Daneshouse and Stoneyholme.
Other local authority areas in East Lancashire are also mired in alarmingly high poverty rates except the Ribble Valley where just 7% fall into the category
Fears are that child poverty could worsen as low income families bear the brunt of council tax payment rises and the controversial “bedroom tax”.
Enver Solomon, chairman of the End Child Poverty campaign said the map revealed the gross levels of poverty and inequality across the country.
He said: “Far too many children whose parents are struggling to make 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.”
Paul Wilcox, assistant director for Barnardo’s North West, said that the figures show thousands of children’s life chances were being compromised by the country’s failure to effectively tackle child poverty.
He said: “The Government must act now to end child poverty by providing practical help to the people who need it most, bringing down energy bills, tackle family debt, and make childcare more affordable.”
There’s more on this story in Friday’s Express