20% of kids live in poverty

ALMOST 20 per cent of children in Boston are considered to be living in poverty, shocking new figures have shown.

Just less than 2,500 children (18.9 per cent) are considered to be living below the breadline, according to the town’s local health profile, in a situation which has been called ‘clearly unacceptable’ by Boston Borough Council.

The figures, which are based on the latest statistics from 2010, were published as it was revealed that more than a fifth of households in Boston are classed as workless, meaning nobody living there is in employment.

The worrying statistics show that the borough is slightly below the average for the whole of the UK, which is 20.9 per cent, but nonetheless, they are concerning for the local authority.

Coun Stephen Woodliffe, portfolio holder for health, said: “It is clearly unacceptable that any child should grow up in poverty, and the fact that just under 2,500 are living in those circumstances is an issue the council is determined to tackle.

“The fact that Boston’s figures are marginally better than the national average is no cause for celebration.”

A child is considered to be living in poverty if they live in a household where the annual earnings are less than 60 per cent of the average income (£288 for a couple with two dependent children under the age of 14). Children living in homes in receipt of out-of-work benefits are also classed as living in poverty.

This was revealed in the same week that Boston was shown to have a higher percentage of households where nobody is working than anywhere else in Lincolnshire.

The Office for National Statistics revealed that 21.9 per cent of homes in the borough struggle with no income from employment, compared to a Lincolnshire average of just over 16 per cent.

A regional breakdown of figures for the East Midlands shows the main reason stated for worklessness was being sick or disabled (25 per cent) followed by early retirement (18.8 per cent). Unemployment was given as a reason for 18.3 per cent of workless households. Studying, looking after family and job hunting were also given as reasons for the household to have no income.

The figures were not broken down on a local level, so the reasons stated for worklessness in Boston in particular are not known.

Despite these figures, a report from the council showed that unemployment in the borough has remained stable in the past year, at just more than three per cent. Long-term unemployment is just above the national average.

In Lincolnshire as a whole, the amount of people who are unemployed dropped between 2010 and 2011, following a slight peak in figures at the beginning of the year.

The percentage of people living in deprivation in Boston is slightly lower than the national average, at 18.9 per cent.

A spokesman for Boston Borough Council said the levels of deprivation were a concern and would be investigated in the coming months.

Deprivation, unemployment and child poverty are closely linked, according to charities which specialise in the matter.

According to the charity End Child Poverty, the number of children living in poverty has risen dramatically in the past year, leaving two million British children in homes where neither parent works.