Councillor raises the alarm over new report

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NEW figures revealing the number of children living in poverty in Calderdale have been described as “deeply disturbing”.

The report uses benefit and tax credit data to calculate the number of children who are living in households classed as poor, and for the first time breaks the information down by electoral ward.

Commenting on the report, Coun Megan Swift, (Lab, Town), who has responsibility for children’s social care, said:

“The report shows that 20 per cent of Calderdale children – that’s one in five – lives in a low-income household.

“That’s frightening enough, but the break down by ward is even more worrying, with the figures ranging from as low as 8 per cent (1 in 12) in Skircoat, (one of the borough’s most affluent areas) to just under 40 per cent, or two in five, in Park Ward (one of the most deprived).

“And there is a strong concentration of problems across Halifax, with Park, Ovenden, Illingworth and Mixenden, Warley and Town wards (invariably the borough’s more deprived areas) all showing rates above the Calderdale average.

“These facts matter, both to individual families and to our whole community.

“Poverty shortens lives, and limits people’s opportunities.

“Children in poorer families are more likely to suffer chronic diseases, more likely to die in an accident, and are likely to leave school at 16 with fewer qualifications.

“The previous Labour government adopted a target to eliminate child poverty, and progress was being made.

“I’m concerned that the cuts in working family tax credits, and threats to services such as Surestart, will undermine the good work and take us backwards.

“I’m determined that Calderdale Council does all it can to focus on raising opportunities for all children, but especially those living in the most challenging circumstances.”