NORTH Oxfordshire has seen the biggest rise in child poverty in the county, new figures have revealed.

Cherwell district, which includes Bicester, Banbury and Kidlington, has seen a three per cent increase – the biggest rise in Oxfordshire compared to other districts.

Labour Party group leader on Cherwell District Council Sean Woodcock said politicians had focussed too much energy and money on the country’s capital, leaving places such as Banbury and Bicester to struggle.

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The Banbury councillor said: “Too much attention for investment and policymakers is focused on growth in and around London.

"As the part of the South East furthest away from the capital, this limits our area’s potential.

“Houses [in north Oxfordshire] are advertised for their proximity to the M40 and the train station, the idea being that people live in Cherwell but work elsewhere.

"This leaves a local economy that, for too many, is based on low-paid jobs in retail or warehouses.

“Instead of focusing around this, we need to invest properly in all areas and regions of the country so that people here can thrive.”

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The percentage of child poverty in Cherwell in 2014/15 was 9.8 and in 2018/19 rose to 12.8.

West Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire both saw a rise of 2.2 per cent.

In Oxford child poverty rose by 2.1 per cent to 13.5 per cent, while the lowest increase in the county was in Vale of White Horse district, which includes Abingdon and Wantage, and saw a 1.8 per cent increase to 9.3.

The figures were compiled in a study by End Child Poverty and Loughborough University, using new data from The Department for Work and Pensions which tracked child poverty from 2014/15-2018/19.

As a result of the study, the End Child Poverty coalition is calling on the Government to commit to a strategy to end child poverty in the aftermath of coronavirus.

Cherwell District Council says it is aware of the problem and although it cannot help children get out of child poverty, there are initiatives in place to help the lifestyles of those affected.

A spokesperson for Cherwell said: “We recognise the challenges faced by people living with economic disadvantages in our area.

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“As a local authority we are aware that these statistics on child poverty reflect underlying national and regional issues, and we run and support a number of initiatives to promote opportunity and healthy lifestyle choices for families experiencing poverty.

“Initiatives such as our FAST family activity programme show that a targeted local approach can help address some of the lifestyle issues which, statistically, people living in areas classed as deprived are more at risk of.

“During lockdown the activators who deliver this scheme have been offering a more personalised support, calling families and creating bespoke exercise routines for them to do at home.”

The report’s analysis showed how unequal the country is with children in some parts six times more likely to be growing up in poverty.

While child poverty is deteriorating across better and worse-off areas of the country proportionately, those places starting off with a high rate see more additional children pulled into poverty.

Anna Feuchtwang, chair of End Child Poverty and chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “Ending child poverty must be at the heart of the Government’s plan for economic recovery, so that when this crisis is over all children can enjoy a life free from poverty.”