One in three children in Dewsbury living below the breadline

VOICING CONCERN Coun Darren O'Donovan.
VOICING CONCERN Coun Darren O'Donovan.

Shocking new figures have revealed one in three children are living below the breadline in parts of Dewsbury.

Thousands of youngsters are trapped in a cycle of poverty, with Dewsbury Moor and Ravensthorpe named among the worst-hit areas in Kirklees.

And there are fears more families are spiralling into financial trouble as a result of changes to the welfare system.

Coun Darren O’Donovan (Lab, Dews West) said: “When looking at the changes the government is going through, they are harsh for our area. Our community is one which has been affected more than others and you see the changes happening day by day.”

Figures in Kirklees’ Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) show around 20,000 children in Kirklees live in poverty.

A child is defined as being in poverty if their household income, including benefits received, is less than 60 per cent of the district’s average household. In Kirklees the threshold is around £16,300.

The report said Kirkburton had the lowest rate of child poverty at seven per cent, while Dewsbury West had the highest at 35 per cent.

Coun O’Donovan said there had been “inequalities for decades”, but Kirklees and community groups were supporting families in hardship.

“As a council we are fully committed to addressing poverty in Kirklees and Dewsbury West,” he said.

“We have got a fantastic healthy lifestyle programme. We are providing extra education classes and places for people go find work.”

Children’s charity Action for Children runs a centre in Ravensthorpe as part of its work to end poverty among families in the UK.

Services manager Amanda Taylor said: “Our children’s centres in Dewsbury West work with 2,500 children under the age of five and their families.

“We offer a range of support such as sessions to help parents to understand more about their child’s development and benefits advice.”

The JSNA also detailed issues with the health and wellbeing of Kirklees children.

It found 17 per cent of 14-year-olds had trouble sleeping due to anxiety.

In Mirfield, almost half of 14-year-olds said they had had problems with bullies.