A QUARTER of Oxford’s children are stuck living in poverty with experts predicting the situation is ‘only going to get worse.’

New figures released last week by The End Child Poverty coalition found that 7,351 children are estimated to be living in poverty in Oxford, equivalent to 26.4 per cent of the child population.

Some city wards, including Blackbird Leys, Rose Hill and Iffley and Barton and Sandhills have poverty rates of a third.

Oxford was revealed to have the 14th highest rate of child poverty in the South East, behind cities such as Hastings, Portsmouth and Dover.

Elsewhere in the region child poverty rates, which include all children living in a household where income is 60 per cent less than the median, is as low as one in 10.

The median income in the United Kingdom is £27,000 a year.

The new figures show no progress has been made in reducing child poverty since 2016, when 27 per cent of Oxford’s children were classified as poor.

Geoffrey Ferres, the manager of the Rose Hill and Donnington Advice Centre, said the nature of poverty in the city has changed and it is mostly people in work who find themselves struggling.

He said: “Life is hard for many people bringing up children in Oxford, not because they are out of work but because they are in very low paid, unstable work.

“People can find work but they have to do very long hours for minimum wage and the costs of living makes things very hard.

“We see cases where children have nowhere proper to sleep or haven’t had enough to eat.

“The effects of this type of long-term poverty on a child’s development can be very long-lasting.”

Elsewhere in the county, Cherwell has a child poverty rate of 16.98 per cent, whilst it is 14.39 per cent in the Vale of White Horse, 13.39 per cent in West Oxfordshire and 12.5 per cent in South Oxfordshire.

Campaigners are calling on the Government to end the freeze on child benefits – currently in place until the end of the decade – so that families no longer see their living standards ‘squeezed’.

Mr Ferres added: “There has not been any real action by the Government to attempt to bring children out of poverty.

“People who rely on benefits to top-up their low wages have seen years of cuts and freezes which has made them worse off in real terms.

“It’s quite simple really.

"Either wages need to rise or benefits increase otherwise we will never get to grips with the problem.”

Fears have previously been raised that changes made to the benefits system last autumn would increase the number of people relying on food banks and charities to get by.

All claimants are moving to the Universal Credit system, which simplifies existing benefits such as job seeker’s allowance and housing benefit in to one payment,.

But some claimants have faced long waits whilst they are assessed.

Peter Turville, a senior case worker at Barton Community Centre, said the effects of the changes were only just being felt but added ‘the developing picture is not rosy.’

He said: “We see a lot of families struggling to make ends meet.

“It means not being able to afford clothes or school trips or let their children go out with friends.

“They have no margin for error and are only one pay cheque away from the edge."