Child poverty on the rise in Rugby

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CHILD poverty in the Rugby borough has increased year on year since 2006, the latest figures reveal.

Amid a cut in tax credits and the economic downturn, Rugby’s child poverty rate is set to exceed 15 per cent this year – if current trends continue – up from 12.5 per cent in 2006. The statistics, from the ONS and published by Warwickshire Observatory last week, come a month after Save the Children warned the situation was exasperated because more parents are turning down jobs because they can’t afford to pay for childcare coupled with the cut in working tax credits.

Pete McLaren, spokesman for Rugby Against the Cuts said: “This increase in child poverty in a so-called affluent society is an absolute disgrace. What is even worse is that figures show the wealthy are getting even richer despite the recession.”

Rugby Citizens Advice Bureau is working with Warwickshire County Council to counter poverty by getting more parents into work. But according to Save the Children UK almost 60 per cent of parents said they would be no better off working because of childcare costs – which cost more in the UK than anywhere else in the world. The child poverty percentage 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 60 per cent median income.

David Gooding, of Rugby Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “Child poverty numbers are increasing in Rugby due to significant increases in food, utility costs and travel costs set against a background where most people aren’t seeing a rise in income.

“Where available income is decreasing incidences of child poverty will rise.”

Sally Copley, Save the Children’s head of poverty, said: “The Government is undermining its own ‘make work pay’ policy by not funding the costs of childcare for the poorest families. The recent cut to the working tax credit has only made this worse and parents and their children remain trapped in poverty.”

The charity say the tax credit cut has added on average £500 per year onto the childcare bill for half a million families.

Mark Pawsey MP said the Government has a clear intention to ensure that everyone moving into work will be better off when child care is included.

“This issue has come to light as a consequence of the Government’s programme to Make Work Pay which I believe everyone will support. The issue of child care is just one of the wider measures that is being reviewed and I understand that many parents are concerned about its rising cost.

“That is why the government set out a consultative process with options for child care within Universal Credit. It is currently considering the advice and suggestions raised in discussion with campaigning groups, including Save the Children, and has promised to provide more information as soon as it is ready. Like many local parents, I look forward to the results of the consultation.”