Figures show rise of the poverty gap

Damning report: A new study has revealed the places on the Fylde coast with the worst child poverty. Picture posed by model
Damning report: A new study has revealed the places on the Fylde coast with the worst child poverty. Picture posed by model

The worst places on the Fylde coast for child poverty have been revealed in a damning new report.

Thousands of children in the region are classed as living in poverty, but the numbers hide the huge differences between neighbourhoods.

Across Blackpool, one in three children live below the bread line, but in the Bloomfield ward the poverty rate soars to almost half.

Figures released by campaign group End Child Poverty show four wards in the resort – Bloomfield, Brunswick, Claremont and Clifton – have a child poverty rate above 40 per cent once housing costs are taken into account.

The group warned most of the families affected have at least one parent in work, but are still struggling to make ends meet.

David Holmes, chairman of End Child Poverty, said: “These figures reveal just how widely and deeply child poverty reaches into our communities, even those areas generally regarded as well-off.

“Far too many children whose parents are struggling to make a living are suffering as a result, and missing out on the essentials of a decent childhood that all young people should be entitled to.

“We can and must do better for our children.”

In Fylde, the child poverty rate ranges from just one per cent in Ribby-with-Wrea up to 32 per cent in Kilnhouse.

In Wyre, it ranges from nine per cent in Great Eccleston to 41 per cent in Rossall.

Laurance Hancock, general manager of the Boathouse Youth Group, in Blackpool, said: “I think there are striking differences between the wards in Blackpool.

“If you take a walk around the Stanley Park area, the picture you see is totally different to Bloomfield or Claremont.

“The differences are so great that I think town-wide initiatives aren’t necessarily going to help – I think tackling poverty has got to be done at ward level.”

In June, Blackpool successfully bid for a £45m pot of cash to help address child poverty.

Described by council leader Simon Blackburn as “a once in a generation opportunity” the funding from the National Lottery will be used to target the under-threes.

Issues which can hold back the development of children –from a parent who is an alcoholic to young mums who need advice on healthy eating – will be addressed during the key pre-school years.

It is also hoped the funding will help reduce the number of children growing up in care, meaning less family break ups and stronger communities.

The Blackpool Better Start Partnership, led by the NSPCC children’s charity alongside the council and local health services, will spearhead the project over the next 10 years.

The cash will be concentrated on the poorest wards in the resort – Claremont, Talbot, Brunswick, Bloomfield, Park, Victoria and Clifton – but some initiatives, such as encouraging mums-to-be not to smoke in pregnancy, will be borough-wide.