Almost a third of children in Crawley living in poverty

Almost a third of children in Crawley are living in poverty according to the latest figures from national poverty charity Turn2us.

Figures from 2019-20 show that 32 per cent of children in Crawley are living in poverty, in comparison to 30 per cent in 2014-15.

The statistics also show that 7,932 children are now living in poverty, in comparison to 7,003 five year ago.

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Crawley’s figures are slightly higher than the national average, which is at 30 per cent, and significantly higher than the South East average of 23.8 per cent.

Almost a third of children are living in poverty in Crawley according to the latest figures from national poverty charity Turn2us. Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

The percentage of child poverty in England has increased by 2.2 per cent, to 28.3 per cent since 2014-15, while the South East average has dropped 0.6 per cent, to 24.4 per cent, in the same period.

The research was carried out by Loughborough University for the End Child Poverty coalition.

Stagnating incomes, high housing costs and cuts to the social security system have pushed many families to the brink.

The rise in poverty comes despite most families working. The proportion of children living in poverty who are in working households has increased from 67 per cent five years ago to 75 per cent now.

Sara Willcocks, head of external affairs at Turn2us, said: “The impact of growing up in poverty is well documented; children in low income households have worse mental and physical health, they do less well in schools and have fewer opportunities in the future.

“This is why it is morally unacceptable for any child, let alone millions, to be allowed to grow up in financial hardship.

“Unfortunately, our children are now paying the debt for a decade of austerity, cuts and freezes.

“Wages have been allowed to remain low, rents have been free to rise and nothing has been done to tackle the soaring cost of living.

“If the government truly believes in compassion and justice, ministers must fully commit to solving it.

“We are urging the Prime Minister to listen to our recommendations and include them in a comprehensive strategy to end child poverty once and for all.”

A Government spokesperson added: “Latest figures show that the number of children in absolute poverty has fallen by 300,000 since 2010.

“We are committed to supporting families most in need, spending billions more on welfare and planning a long-term route out of poverty by protecting jobs through furlough and helping people find new work through our Plan for Jobs.

“We also introduced our £269 million Covid Local Support Grant to help children and families stay warm and well-fed throughout the pandemic.”

Crawley MP Henry Smith added: "The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented economic response from government, furlough has helped to pay the wages of 11.5 million people nationally with more than £61.3 billion paid out in grants across the UK.

"The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has paid out almost £20 billion in grants to 2.7 million people and an uplift in Universal Credit along with a doubling of Work Coaches is helping those unfortunately unemployed.

"All young people deserve support. That’s why I welcome over a million laptops for disadvantaged pupils delivered over the last year and record NHS and schools spending.

"Last year I established the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group to stand up for aviation communities such as ours in Crawley.

"This work continues and just last week I questioned the Department for Work & Pensions in the House of Commons about the support available for people locally."

The leader of Crawley Borough Council, Peter Lamb, said: "The last Labour Government took 600,000 children out of poverty.

"It is a source of deep national shame that under the Conservatives child poverty has grown by 1.5 million, the direct consequence of policies charities warned them at the time would increase poverty.

"To reverse the damage would require a fundamental change in the core beliefs of the Conservative Party."

The leader of the Conservatives in Crawley, West Sussex County Councillor for Tilgate & Furnace Green, and Crawley Borough Councillor for Furnace Green, Duncan Crow added: "There are left-wing organisations and political parties who always select statistics to suit their political narrative.

"Using ‘relative poverty’ figures is not the best measure at all, because we can have a situation where everyone becomes worse off, including the least well-off, but relative poverty improves.

"This is what happens every single time whenever Labour are in government, with the economy doing worse, unemployment rising, and more people trapped on benefits.

"What is a much better measure to use is absolute poverty. Here, there has been a very welcome improvement ever since the Conservatives have been in government in 2010.

"Things have become more complicated since the pandemic struck but the amount of government support has been unprecedented, including an extra £1,000 a year for people on Universal Credit."