THE RATE of child poverty in Hastings is among the highest in the country, according to figures published this week.
The percentage of children living in poverty in the town in 2012 was 31 per cent, up from 28 per cent in 2011, according to research carried out by the Campaign to End Child Poverty.
Hastings was shown to have the highest rate in the south, and the 17th highest in the UK, well above the national average of 20.2 per cent.
The figures are based on 2010 data adjusted according to the estimated change in the number of children in unemployed households.
Stephanie Edmonds, operations director at the Fellowship of St Nicholas, said: “With further public funding cuts on the horizon in 2013/14, and the forthcoming introduction of the Universal Credit changes, Hastings is very likely to see an increase in the number of families falling into the poverty trap, which will clearly lead to a greater reliance on the voluntary sector.”
Dina Christodoulou, chief executive of Citizens Advice 1066, said that in her view things were only going to get worse as a result of the benefit changes and funding cuts to advice agencies, including an almost 50 per cent cut in funding to CA 1066.
“There are very difficult times ahead for Hastings.
“The funding is reducing drastically, but the problems are going to increase,” she said.
Hastings MP Amber Rudd said: “The best prevention for child poverty is to get work for families, and the evidence is that unemployment is beginning to come down.
“I am focused on bringing investment into Hastings and jobs into Hastings.”
In 2010 Ms Rudd signed a personal pledge to work to end child poverty in her constituency by 2020 as a ‘Child Poverty Champion’.
She said: “This is a reminder of how far we have got to go, but I am optimistic that we are on the right track.
“I remain completely committed as a Child Poverty Champion.”
Sarah Owen, Labour’s candidate for MP in Hastings and Rye, said: “This is a terrible snapshot of the difficulties many families are facing against a backdrop of a flat lining economy and rising living costs.”