Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 11:30 UK

City's 'shocking' child poverty

A child playing
More than 80% of young people in Ladywood live in or close to poverty

An area of Birmingham has the highest number of children in England living in or close to poverty, a charity said.

The Campaign to End Child Poverty said 81%, or 28,420 individuals, in the city's Ladywood constituency live in or on the brink of poverty.

The campaign, run by a coalition of charities, classes households as being in poverty if they are living on less than 10 per household per day.

Campaign director Hilary Fisher said the figures were "absolutely shocking".

The Campaign to End Child Poverty is a coalition of more than 130 organisations including Barnardo's, Unicef and the NSPCC.

'Back to work'

Carl Rice, Labour councillor for Ladywood, said people needed to be encouraged back to work.

"All evidence shows that people are better off in work than being dependent on benefits.

"The wages on offer must be far more attractive than the benefit system and the best way to achieve this is to increase the wages of the lowest paid in society," he said.

He also said Ladywood had a unique problem with new settlers, a lot of them from countries with little infrastructure who then struggle to work way their way out of poverty.

Figures disturbing

Clare Short, Independent MP for the constituency, said the figures were disturbing but suggested Ladywood came out top because of a constituency reorganisation.

"The inner cities throughout the UK have similar problems," she said.

"Ladywood is the worst because since the reorganisation in 1997 it consists of four inner city wards. This is a sad reflection of the growing inequality in the UK."

The government has said it is committed to the cause, helping people to apply for family credit and also helping provide nursery school places.

At last week's Labour Party conference, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said child poverty "demeans Britain" and repeated his party's pledge to halve child poverty by 2010, and ultimately to end it.


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