Thousands of children in Lewes and Wealden are living in poverty, according to new figures.
The data has been published by the End Child Poverty coalition, which claims that two thirds of child poverty occurs in working families and highlighted problems with rising housing costs coupled with real-terms cuts to benefits.
The estimated number of children living in poverty after housing costs was 5,267 in Lewes (24 per cent) and 7,148 in Wealden (21 per cent) for 2017/18.
This is down one percentage point in both areas compared with 2016/17.
In East Sussex the figure is as high as 38 per cent in Hastings and as low as 21 per cent in Wealden.
The UK average is 30 per cent.
Estimated levels of child poverty were compiled using a new method compared to previous years from a wide range of indicators by researchers at Loughbourough University.
End Child Poverty is calling for the Government to set out an ambitious and credible strategy.
This should include restoring the link between benefits and inflation, ending the two-child limit on child allowances in tax credits and universal credit and reversing cuts and investing in children’s services.
Anna Feuchtwang, chair of the End Child Poverty coalition, said: “We know what causes child poverty and we know how to end it. We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs. And we know that work alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.’
“Yet in many areas growing up in poverty is not the exception it’s the rule with more children expected to get swept up in poverty in the coming years, with serious consequences for their life chances.
“Policymakers can no longer deny the depth of the problem or abandon entire areas to rising poverty. The Government must respond with a credible child poverty-reduction strategy.
“The Government’s own data shows that child poverty in the UK has been rising steadily in recent years. This just isn’t right.
“Growing up in poverty means growing up trapped. It restricts a child’s chances of doing well at school, of living a healthy and happy life, and of finding well paid work as adults. We urgently need Government to set a course of action that will free our children from the grip of poverty.”
Joe Howes, chief executive officer of Buttle UK, a charity helping children and young people in need, added: “These new figures from the End Child Poverty coalition show that the situation for some of the areas of the UK, that are already the most deeply affected by poverty, is worsening and that means growing problems for the most vulnerable children living in these areas.
“While this is unacceptable across the UK as a whole, it is particularly troubling to see it in the South East where some of the greatest wealth in the UK is centred.”