Rampant child poverty in Islington ‘set to get worse’

Worklessness has been blamed for worrying child poverty levels in Islington – as MP Emily Thornberry warned the rampant problem is only set to get worse.

The latest figures released on Tuesday named Islington as the second worst place in the UK for child poverty for the second year running, after Tower Hamlets, with 43 per cent of youngsters affected.

The data follows an NHS study published in December that revealed 38 per cent of 10 to 11-year-olds in the borough are overweight or obese, which was linked to poverty levels. The rate is 26.4 per cent for reception-age kids.

Cllr Richard Watts, Islington Council’s executive member for children, said: “Child poverty is about the biggest challenge we face in the borough – and it is central to everything we are doing as a council. Ninety per cent of these children are in workless households. The key thing is getting parents back to work, but the recession makes that very difficult.”

Tuesday’s report, issued by the Campaign to End Child Poverty, shows Holloway and Finsbury Park are the worst-hit wards, with 51 and 50 per cent respectively. Highbury East had the lowest rate at 28 per cent, below St George’s at 34 per cent.

Cllr Watts said the council has launched the Parents Employment Partnership to get parents into jobs, while the Family Outreach and Support Service also helps workless families.

A second breakdown by parliamentary constituency has also been issued – and put Ms Thornberry’s seat of Islington South and Finsbury at fourth worst in the country.

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The Labour MP said: “This is no surprise, but the poor in Islington are not a priority for this government. They have cut back on tax credits, housing benefit, and disability benefits and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse until the government changes its policies.”

Tim Nichols, campaign co-ordinator at End Child Poverty, said: “There simply aren’t enough job vacancies for parents in Islington or enough investment in skills and training. Unless the government wakes up to the current danger, we are going to see child poverty rocketing in the next few years.