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Horror at child poverty figures in Chippenham
4:00pm Sunday 6th May 2012 in Chippenham
Councillors are pledging to tackle deprivation in Chippenham after it was revealed that almost 10 per cent of children in the town live in poverty.
The figure, which Councillor Chris Caswill says amounts to around 1,000 children, was revealed in Wiltshire Council’s joint strategy assessment.
The Chippenham Area Board has now vowed to take action to combat the figures, and the issue has been made a priority to tackle in the coming year.
In the meeting on Monday, Coun Caswill said: “I don’t know how many people have read this document but I was horrified when I read the numbers.
“It’s something the vast majority of people are probably unaware of.”
The councillor said the town faced “significant problems”, adding that in recent years, Chippenham had faced the largest increase of people claiming Jobseeker’s allowance in Wiltshire.
The document also shows that Chippenham has two areas in the 20 per cent most income deprived areas nationally, one area in the 20 per cent most employment deprived areas in England and five of the 30 per cent most employment deprived.
Between 2004 and 2010, three Chippenham areas became more deprived, including Audley south, which moved from from 38th most deprived to 13th in Wiltshire.
“There are already a significant number of organisations and charities working to address this, but by making it a priority for the coming year, the area board can indicate that we do understand and recognise this issue,” said Coun Caswill.
Coun Bill Douglas said he backed the plans to combat deprivation, and said substance abuse can be a by-product of the issue.
“It is a problem we have to take seriously and I feel it is our duty to discuss this in detail,” he said, before asking for a separate meeting to discuss strategies.
Coun Mary Fallon pointed out that many organisations in the town already work to alleviate child deprivation, including children’s centres, but father-of-three Mike Flay questioned if enough was being done.
“Although I appreciate that a lot of work is going on in the background, my main concern is that those with responsibility for these issues have the ability to respond to an individual’s needs,” he said.
It is hoped that a new task group will be formed to address the issue.