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Fifteen percent of Bexley children live in severe poverty

PUBLISHED: 11:50 07 November 2011 | UPDATED: 17:44 08 November 2011

A children's charity has condemned figures showing almost twice the number of youngsters live in poverty in parts of Bexley as the rest of the country.

Eight wards in the borough have more children living below the breadline than the national average of 21 per cent.

Thirty-seven per cent of children in North End and 34 per cent in Thamesmead are living below the poverty line.

Graham Whitham, poverty adviser at Save the Children, which works with youngsters in Bexley, said: “Growing up on a low income has a huge range of impacts on a child. You are more likely to do poorly at school and there’s greater chance of mental health problems.

“Bexley has 15 per cent of children living in severe poverty whereas the national average is 13 per cent.”

The Government classes children in families whose income is below 60 per cent of the median national income as living in poverty.

A family of two adults and two children with a yearly income of £16,800 or less, after income tax and housing costs have been paid live in poverty.

MP for Erith and Thamesmead, Teresa Pearce said: “The funding that Bexley gets is based on the numbers they get on the electoral register so they need to make sure people register.

“Bexley is looking to merge services with Bromley which will mean it will almost turn its back on the parts which need the most help.”

The eight wards where poverty is higher than the national average are North End, Thamesmead East, Erith, Colyers, Belvedere, Lesnes Abbey, Crayford and Cray Meadows.

Bexley Council met on Tuesday to discuss how to tackle the problem. Its ideas include fairer access to education and working with school leavers.

A council spokesman said: “There are now 16 children’s centres in the borough, with the majority being based in the north where there is greatest need.

“The centres work with parents and carers of nought to five-year-olds and offer family support, health support, access to childcare for working parents, and early intervention for those in greatest need.”

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