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Eight-out-of-10 kids face poverty in world's 6th richest city

PUBLISHED: 20:45 16 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:42 05 October 2010

SHOCK figures today reveal eight-out-of-10 children are living in poverty in London's East End. Nearly 80 per cent of youngsters in London's most deprived borough are said to be on the breadline, say campaigners on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney, not a single ward escapes destitution. Tower Hamlets alone has an estimated 42,850 youngsters from low-income families—79 per cent of its child population

Mike Brooke

SHOCK figures today reveal eight-out-of-10 children are living in poverty in London’s East End.

Nearly 80 per cent of youngsters in London’s poorest borough, Tower Hamlets, are said to be on the breadline, a report by campaigners reveals on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Neighbouring Newham and Hackney boroughs fare little better, both with nearly seven-out-of-10 youngsters facing poverty or on the brink of it.

Nearly all parts of the three deprived boroughs are affected. In Tower Hamlets and Hackney alone, not a single ward escapes destitution, say the End Child Poverty campaigners.

The most deprived of all the 33 London boroughs is Tower Hamlets, with an estimated 42,850 youngsters from low-income families—79 per cent of its child population.

Second worst is Newham next door, with nearly 50,700 in poverty, some 69 per cent.

Third is Hackney with nearly 38,200 in poverty, around 67 per cent.

The breakdown of statistics has been released today (Friday) to launch the organisation’s two-year End Child Poverty programme to tackle the deprivation areas like East London face.

Bethnal Green South and Stepney Green are said to be the worst of all local wards anywhere in London, with well over 7,000 impoverished children between them.

Haggerston is neighbouring Hackney’s poorest ward, with 2,120 children from struggling families.

But child poverty isn’t confined to inner city areas like the East End. It has become widespread further out in more suburban areas of East London, such as Barking & Dagenham with 26,700 youngsters in poverty, almost 60 per cent of its child population, and nearby Waltham Forest with 31,300 from poor families, or 55 per cent.

“It is ironic that London is the economic powerhouse of the UK and provides a fifth of its wealth,” said Child Poverty’s director Hilary Fisher.

“Yet it is failing to provide for hundreds of thousands of children.

“Poverty blights children’s lives. It is shameful in the sixth richest city in the world that this is allowed to continue.”

The figures also demonstrate a widening divide’ in the capital. Across town, families lead very different lives in areas like Merton which borders on the more affluent stockbroker belt of leafy Surrey.

Just four per cent come from poor families in parts of Merton—which means most youngsters have significantly better life chances, the campaigners point out.

Project Coordinator Liz Thorne blames specific problems in areas like the East End, such as high unemployment, bad housing and rising crime.

“Initiatives have been started to help overcome these problems—but these frequently take place in isolated pockets,” she explains.

“Raising awareness and pooling the wealth of expertise in voluntary and community organisations in areas like Tower Hamlets will help tackle these specific challenges as well as the wider injustices London faces.”

There are now 650,000 youngsters faced with poverty across London, says the organisation.

Child Poverty’s Four in 10 project being launched today is focussing its first year on 10 inner London boroughs where half the children on average live in deprivation.

Tower Hamlets, Newham, and Hackney top the list. The others are Islington, Camden, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea.

The project will spread to a further 10 boroughs in the second year, to boost public awareness of London’s child poverty and promote schemes to tackle it in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics—when the world’s attention focuses on London.

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