CHILD poverty figures in Blacon could be as high as 53 per cent, according to a councillor for the estate.
National children’s charity End Child Poverty said last week 33 per cent of children living in Blacon were classed as living in poverty – double the borough average.
But Labour councillor Carolyn Graham said that figures produced in Cheshire West and Chester Council’s (CWaC) Altogether Better report suggested the true figures were far higher.
Cllr Graham said: “I’ve seen figures for child poverty in Blacon at 53.1 per cent from the Altogether Better report which was submitted to the executive in October.
“It is a massive concern locally, and is likely to be further exacerbated by the welfare reform which the Government is imposing, and again the changes to council tax benefit which will impact some 8,000 low-income families across Cheshire West and Chester.
“It seems that despite our council corporate plan saying that we need to narrow the gap between the richest and poorest in our borough, our Tory-led council are following the policy of hitting the pockets of our low-income families the hardest.”
According to the figures published by End Child Poverty, 20.2 per cent of children nationally are living in poverty, with Blacon being among the hardest hit areas in Cheshire, something Cllr Graham is keen to address.
“The CWaC Labour group are raising a number of amendments to the budget
to counter some of these effects,” she said.
“More locally in Blacon we are working with the schools and community groups to try and tackle some of the effects, and a large proportion of our members’ budget each year is awarded to groups which support young people’s activities.
“It’s essential that we raise the standards of living and aspiration of
our young people, not just in Blacon but across the borough, and provide meaningful career opportunities for them in the future.”
Conservative MP for Chester Stephen Mosley said he was concerned by the figures but believes the welfare reforms are the right approach and said bringing jobs into the area was key to addressing the situation.
“The level of these figures is certainly not a good thing and we want to make sure everyone has opportunities for employment so we can tackle these figures; this is where welfare reform comes in,” said Mr Mosley.
“We have to make sure that we have the jobs in place. The solution is to get people into work. That way they will be better off.
“I am working hard to promote this city, it is a wonderful place and I want to see more businesses come into the area so we can get people back into work and in doing so, tackle problems such as child poverty.”
CWaC said officers worked closely with disadvantaged families to ensure public resources were targeted in the right places.