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Quarter of Oxford's children now living in poverty
Buy this photo » Sarah Darby, joint manager of the Barton Advice Centre Pictures: Jon Lewis
THE number of children classed as living in poverty has risen to a quarter of all youngsters in Oxford, new research shows.
The study by the Campaign to End Child Poverty found 8,345 children in the city were living in poverty.
It showed poverty rates in the city had increased by three percentage points, from 22 per cent in 2011 to 25 per cent in 2012.
The figure is higher than the national average of 20.2 per cent.
Staff at advice centres said that the findings were not surprising, but reacted with disappointment.
Carole Roberts, of Rose Hill and Donnington Advice Centre, said: “Things are just getting worse at the moment. It is absolutely disgusting in a city like Oxford that one child in four is living below the poverty line.
“We are having more and more families visiting us with debt problems. It is getting to be a nightmare.
“It is about time that people in this city told the Government that enough is enough. We will be getting soup kitchens next because food banks won’t be able to cope with it all.”
Sarah Darby, joint manager of Barton Advice Centre, agreed, saying: “We have definitely experienced an increase in families visiting and that will only get worse over the next few months. But I am surprised the figure is that high.”
Suzy Drohan, fellow joint manager of Barton Advice Centre, added: “This could make the situation worse, especially when the level of support to children is not being increased.
“In an affluent city like Oxford, for a quarter of children to be identified as in poverty is outrageous.
“The use of food banks has gone from something which was exceptional to something which is fairly average.
“It is the squeeze on working-age people that is unfortunately making child poverty increase.”
The research was published by the Campaign to End Child Poverty, a group of more than 100 charities which tackles the issue across the UK.
Cowley-based Oxfam is among the charities which support the campaign. Those classed as living below the poverty line belong to two groups.
The first is defined as children in households with below 60 per cent of the median national income of £26,500 before housing costs. That means households who are working, but earning less than £16,000 a year before housing.
The second group is those whose parents do not work and are in a family which is in receipt of out-of-work benefits.
To calculate the percentage figure, the two groups are added together and divided by the total number of children in the area to work out the average.
The city is split – with 27 per cent of children in the Oxford East constituency living in poverty compared to only 12 per cent in Oxford West and Abingdon.
Meanwhile, though child poverty in general across Oxfordshire is below the national average, it is on the increase in every district (see graphic).
More than 16,000 children in the county are defined as living in poverty according to the report.
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