1 in 6 of borough’s children living in poverty

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More than 17% of children in Central Bedfordshire are living in poverty according to a report by a leading children’s charity.

The Children’s Society has compiled key stats on children living in every local authority, Parliamentary constituency and police force area in England.

The series of reports, including one on Central Bedfordshire, includes figures for the number of children living in poverty, at risk of harm, homeless, or living in families struggling with energy and council tax debt.

In Central Bedfordshire, 1,506 of the borough’s 58,615 children are classed as being ‘children in need’ while 17.4% or 10,211 are living in poverty.

An estimated 7,865 are living in families living in energy debt.

Of those classed as being in need, 241 are aged 16/17. Youth homeless was also an issue with the report stating that: “We estimate that in 2014, 1,290 chldren aged 16 or 17 years old in the East of England presented as homeless. These teenagers are often at serious risk of harm and can be escaping homes wheree they face problems such as substance abuse, violence or severe overcrowding.”

1.75% of children under the age of 1 are in need because of abuse and neglect the report says.

The report also says that in 2014/12 there were 5,999 children living in families in the borough in council tax debt.

“We would urge local authorities to protect children by not sending bailiffs round to families with children” the report states. “Our research has shown that using bailiffs has a particularly damaging impact on the emotional health and well being of children.”

The charity also highlighted the cut in early intervention funding to Central Beds, a 41% drop in 2016 from 2010.

The report has a list of recommendations it urges councils to adopt to protect youngsters at risk.

A spokesperson from Central Bedfordshire Council said: “We welcome the report; although there are no surprises in the report for us, we think it is always helpful to highlight the national challenges that face children’s services.

“The Children’s Society report makes a number of recommendations to improve outcomes for children, many of which Central Bedfordshire Council are already doing. For example, the council already has a strong focus on working with children and families early so that they get the right help and support at the right the time. The safety and care of all children in Central Bedfordshire is of the upmost importance to us and we will continue to work with our partners to improve children’s lives and deliver the best possible services to families.”