The manager of Rugby’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau David Gooding has said it feels like the days of Dickensian Victorian poor have returned to Rugby.
In response to a report saying that an estimated 2,275 children in the Rugby Constituency were living in poverty, Mr Gooding said he was also upset by the gradual take-over of Rugby town centre by betting and money shops while more and more people are relying on Rugby Foodbank.
The report by the End Child Poverty campaign added that in parts of Brownsover, Newbold and Overslade, over one in five children were being brought up in poverty.
Mr Gooding said: “The need to reduce child poverty has been mostly overlooked in the drive to cut public expenditure and drive people into poorly paid employment and off benefits. It feels like the days of the Victorian poor that Dickens described so well are arriving again in Rugby and the days of the original ‘dole’ are back with us again.”
He added: “Just as Rugby CAB and other local frontline organisations are forced to scale back and make redundancies, the demand for help from people in crisis is increasing. Some of these cases we deal with everyday are heartbreaking.”
He added that central Government needed to step in as a matter of urgency to provide support and resources both to Rugby Borough Council and frontline voluntary sector organisations.
In response, Rugby MP Mark Pawsey said the Government was now tackling the root causes of child poverty. He said: “Work is always the best way out of poverty and we need to create more employment opportunities on top of the 1.2 million new jobs which have been created since 2010.
“Universal Credit is designed to make the transition between benefits and work easier to ensure that people are no longer faced with the 96 per cent tax rates that they are effectively hit with now when they come off benefits.
“Under Universal Credit, 3 million families will be better off and the majority of these – 75 per cent - will come from the bottom two fifths of the income scale.”
He said the Government is also investing additional funding into childcare support to help parents back into work.
He added: “In regards to food banks it is, of course, highly undesirable that anybody should be in a position whereby they need to visit a food bank, but we need to address the root causes of this problem and not make it a political issue which will not help those in need.
“Finally, I welcome the decision by Rugby Borough Council to provide additional funding for our local CAB for financial capability training. Its staff of dedicated volunteers are an asset to the local community and I would like to pay tribute to them.”