New figures released this week show Crawley has nearly 20 per cent of children living in poverty.
Public Health England has drawn up heath profiles for each authority and for Crawley. Although child poverty and deprivation are better than the national average, there are still 4,165 out of 21,359 children and young people aged under 16 living in poverty within the Crawley Borough.
There is increasing evidence linking adverse childhood circumstances to poor child health outcomes and future adult ill health as well as poor educational attainment and teenage pregnancy.
The figures represent the number of children living in families in receipt of Child Tax Credit, have low income, or are in receipt of income support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
They were based on the most recent data for benefits measured in 2010. Last year’s health profile showed the figure was 4,000, but Crawley MP Henry Smith explained since then many families have been helped.
He said: “Child poverty in Crawley has been directly affected by the per cent shrinkage in the economy seen in 2008 crash. The current Government is giving £3million next year to Crawley schools via the Pupil Premium to help the poorest children.
“Additionally the local NHS budget has been increased again. Over 4,000 of Crawley’s poorest families have been taken out of paying income tax altogether and with unemployment down to 2.8 per cent as well as a strengthening economy, the future looks much more positive.”
Chris Oxlade, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate felt more work needed to be done. He said: “Nearly 4,200 children living in poverty in Crawley is an increase on last years survey and much more needs to be done to help our Crawley children.
“Costs are up, wages have stagnated and support cut. We need policies like Labour’s energy price freeze and a drive to build more affordable housing to ease the financial pressures on families in Crawley and to drastically reduce this figure.”