More than a quarter of children in Crawley are living in poverty, according to startling new figures.
Rising prices are being blamed and the Government is now being urged to end the freeze on child benefits - currently in place until 2020 - so that families no longer see living standards squeezed.
The figures have been revealed by a group known as the End Child Poverty coalition which includes charities, faith groups and unions. The figures show that a total of 25.5 per cent of chilren in Crawley are living below the poverty line.
At the other end of the scale, towns in nearby Horsham and Mid Sussex are among areas in the UK with the lowest levels of child poverty.
In Horsham, 13.9 per cent of children are classified as living in poverty, and in Mid Sussex - which includes Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and surrounding villages - the figure is 13.37 per cent.
Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “Poverty can hold children back in many different ways. It can mean children don’t reach a good level of health or development, do well in school or reach their potential in employment.
“The Government has pledged action through its social mobility policy, but the scale of child poverty that this new data reveals, means we urgently need a wider commitment from across Government to improve the living standards of children, young people and families. In particular, we need action to address the devastating impact of benefit cuts on families, including those with disabled children, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet.’
The coalition is also concerned that the impact of poverty may be exacerbated by poorer families facing paying as much as £1,700 per year more than better off families, to buy the same goods.