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Child poverty grows in shadow of Canary Wharf

PUBLISHED: 18:00 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:40 05 October 2010

MORE than three-quarters of children in the East End are living in poverty despite having the extreme wealth of the City and Canary Wharf on their doorsteps, figures released this week reveal. MP George Galloway described the figures released by the Camp

MORE than three-quarters of children in the East End are living in poverty despite having the extreme wealth of the City and Canary Wharf on their doorsteps, figures released this week reveal.

MP George Galloway described the figures released by the Campaign to End Child Poverty, which show that 79 per cent of children in his Bethnal Green and Bow constituency are living in poverty, as "truly shocking".

Mr Galloway's constituency has the second highest rate of child poverty in the country, with 23,450 children living in low-income families, and neighbouring Poplar and Canning Town comes sixth according to the research by the umbrella organisation which includes Barnardo's, Unicef, and the NSPCC.

He said: "These figures are a scandal and a disgrace. We have the City on one side of my constituency and Canary Wharf on another where individual speculators have been walking off with tens of millions of pounds in bonuses.

"And yet here in the shadow of this wealth we have this terrible grinding poverty for those who should be looking forward to a bright future.

"This poverty means that children will be eating a poor diet, they will be cold this winter and there will be no money to buy books for them to read or quiet space for them to read them.

"These are Victorian conditions which should have been banished from the 21st century."

Mr Galloway said he would be raising questions in the House of Commons and said a Government plan was needed urgently to tackle the issue which he said would only get worse in the current economic climate.

The results of the survey, which was released on Tuesday, reveal that 77 per cent of children living in Poplar and canning Town live in low-income families where no one is working more than 16 hours a week or the family is receiving the full amount of Working Tax Credit.

Conservative councillor for Blackwall and Cubitt Town, Tim Archer said: "The high percentage of our children living in poverty is a disgrace."

He said the Government had failed to tackle the unique problems in the East End and said overhauling the tax system to support people who are trying to get back into work would go some way to solving the problem.

He also said free English classes would enable people to get good jobs and bring their families out of poverty.

A spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets council said: "No child should have to grow up in poverty and Tower Hamlets Council is fully committed to working closely with our partners to reduce levels of child poverty in the borough.

"We cannot underestimate the scale of the challenge child poverty presents. It involves the council, primary care trust, voluntary agencies and many other organisations all working together to ensure families that are struggling receive all the support they need."

"We want the very best for our children and young people and while high levels of deprivation should not mean reduced outcomes for children, we will be doing all that we can to ensure child poverty levels are significantly reduced here in Tower Hamlets."

She also said child poverty levels could be reduced by helping parents get sustainable employment, giving the whole family more financial independence.

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