THE UK is one of the richest countries in the world.

We have a health service which is the envy of the world and a social system which should, in theory, ensure no-one is homeless or hungry.

But figures show one in three children in Clacton are classified as living in poverty.

Research published by End Child Poverty Coalition shows that, before the coronavirus pandemic, poverty has continued to rise across the region, with 25 per cent of under-16s living in poverty after housing costs.

But in Clacton, it was found 7,378 children - or 34.8 per cent - are considered to be in poverty.

It makes it one of the worst areas for child poverty in the region, only behind Peterborough and Luton.

In Colchester the analysis shows 8,822 children - 24.4 per cent - living in poverty.

The End Child Poverty Coalition said the research, which was carried out by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, shows the scale of the Government’s challenge to level up opportunities for children.

It said the increase in child poverty after housing costs is partially explainable by rising rents.

It said that many families find that once their housing costs are paid, they do not have enough money to meet their children’s needs and are left no option but to turn to crisis help like food banks and are increasingly reliant on free school meals.

Anna Feuchtwang, chairman of End Child Poverty, said: “This new data reveals the true extent of the hardship experienced by families on low incomes.

“The overwhelming majority of which were working households before the pandemic.

“The children affected are on a cliff edge and the pandemic will only sweep them further into danger.

“As a matter of urgency we are calling on the Chancellor not to go ahead with planned cuts to Universal Credit which would see families lose out on £1,000.”

An Essex County Council spokesman said action was being taken to cut poverty in Tendring.

He said: “Tackling these issues across the county and specifically within Tendring has to be a multi-agency approach and we work together with all districts and borough councils, government agencies, health and voluntary agencies to ensure the needs of families are identified and met in the most appropriate way.

“We support families and children in lot of ways, starting with ensuring children have the best possible start in life through our early years provision and good schools, through to supporting parents with access to work and ensuring families know about healthy eating and immunisation.

“The Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service also offers joined up support with local health services, in line with our child poverty strategy.

“Increasing pressure on families has given rise to new dedicated programmes of support for working families, as well as the emerging Better Lives programme and work is being carried out by our public health team to focus on tackling areas of greater need across the county.”

Lynda McWilliams, Tendring councillor responsible for partnerships, said child poverty was a complex issue.

“That is why we work with and support a number of partners to try and improve our residents’ quality of life,” she added.

“This includes public sector such as Essex County Council and third sector, such as the Holiday Hunger programme from Firstsite which was successfully delivered in Harwich last year.

“Raising quality of life is something which runs through everything we do, such as our work to provide high quality housing for families to live in, supporting schools to ensure children get the best start in life, to our work with health partners too.”

Tendring councillor Dan Casey represents Jaywick, which includes Brooklands - officially the most deprived area of the country.

He fears too many children are slipping through the cracks.

“Some families are really struggling since the austerity measures were introduced a few years ago,” he said.

“These figures are only going to get worse as coronavirus has hit employment.

“More must be done to support those who need it, especially helping parents in Brooklands where there are high levels of deprivation, into work.”

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