It has recently been revealed (September 2013) that one in three children in parts of Dewsbury are living below the breadline. Those in the Dewsbury Moor and Ravensthorpe are among the hardest hit areas in Kirklees.
In a quote from the Dewsbury Reporter, Councillor for Labour and Dewsbury West, Darren O’Donovan said “When looking at the changes the government is going through, they are harsh for our area. Our community is one which has been affected more than others and you see the changes happening day by day.”
Figures in Kirklees’ Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) showed that around 20,000 children in Kirklees are living in poverty. There are concerns that more families could find themselves in financial difficulty and trapped in a cycle of poverty as a result of changes to the welfare system.
A child is defined as being in poverty if their household income, including benefits received, is less than 60 per cent of the district’s average household. In Kirklees the threshold is around £16,300. The report revealed that Kirkburton had the lowest rate of child poverty at 7%, while Dewsbury West had the highest at 35%.
Councillor O’Donovan said there had been “inequalities for decades”, but Kirklees and community groups were supporting families in hardship. “As a council we are fully committed to addressing poverty in Kirklees and Dewsbury West. We have got a fantastic healthy lifestyle programme. We are providing extra education classes and places for people go find work.” he said.
Children’s charity Action for Children runs a centre in Ravensthorpe as they try to end poverty among families in the UK. In another quote from the Dewsbury Reporter, Services manager Amanda Taylor said: “Our children’s centres in Dewsbury West work with 2,500 children under the age of five and their families. We offer a range of support such as sessions to help parents to understand more about their child’s development and benefits advice.”
The JSNA also noted issues with the health and wellbeing of Kirklees children. It found 17 per cent of 14-year-olds had trouble sleeping due to anxiety and in Mirfield almost half of 14-year-olds said they had had problems with bullies.