National child poverty survey does not reveal true picture of situation in Wokingham, say CABBy Julie Spencer
March 12, 2013
A national survey of child poverty does not give a true picture of struggling families in Wokingham, claims the town’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) manager.
John Ferguson said The End Child Poverty data released last month did not reveal pockets of real need in what was regarded as a wealthy area.
Across the borough, nine per cent of children are classed as living in poverty, according to the survey, compared with a national average of 20.2 per cent.
In Sonning, the rate drops to five per cent, but rises to 13 per cent in Norreys and 17 per cent in Shinfield North.
The rate in Reading is 24 per cent and 14 per cent across Bracknell Forest.
The End Child Poverty report points to a link between child poverty and decreased life expectancy, low academic achievement and risk of dying from accidents or fires.
Wokingham’s CAB, in Market Place, helped 4,110 people last year with benefit, debt, employment, housing and social problems.
Of those people helped, an estimated 694 have dependent children.
Mr Ferguson said he believed that in the Norreys area of Wokingham the number of families living in poverty after housing costs could be as high as 45 per cent.
He added: “There are some pockets that are very high and Norreys is the highest spot we have got. Things are getting much more complicated and the complication is that it is multiple debts that people have.
“We are seeing lots of payday loans, which is very worrying for us, and people are running out of money for food so we are referring more and more people to the Foodbank.”
CAB volunteers also helped people who could not afford to travel to sign on at JobCentres in Bracknell or Reading.
Mr Ferguson said: “People have to keep going through the hoops once a fortnight and it can be problematic if they have to find the fares.
“We have some funding to cover bus or train fares so people can sign on.”
Mr Ferguson said he is anticipating even more hardship for families in April when changes to housing benefit and disability benefit come into force.