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Suffolk: Number of children in poverty doubles in 18 months

PUBLISHED: 08:28 12 October 2011 | UPDATED: 08:31 12 October 2011

Geoff Prescott, chief executive of the Ormiston Children's Centre in Felixstowe Road, Ipswich.

Geoff Prescott, chief executive of the Ormiston Children's Centre in Felixstowe Road, Ipswich.

Archant

The region’s biggest children’s charity has seen a 100 per cent increase in the number of families struggling with poverty over the past 18 months.

And Ormiston Children and Families Trust, based in Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, says a worrying 19,000 Suffolk children will be waking up today in poverty, including 25pc of those living in the most deprived parts of Ipswich.

The news came as the NSPCC yesterday opened a “cutting edge” service centre in the town to help change the lives of young people.

Ormiston’s chief executive Geoff Prescott said that across the county, widespread rural isolation and pockets of urban deprivation were forcing families into “real financial hardship”.

He said: “There’s a general idea that Suffolk is a very affluent place but people tend to forget about the hidden child poverty.

“We do know that the numbers of children in poverty are creeping up and we are really concerned that those living on the edge are going to be trapped.

“We have seen a 100pc increase in the number of people coming to us for help over the past 18 months. Vulnerable families are already struggling.”

Mr Prescott said that urban areas had high levels of poverty but better access to resources and schemes set out to help them, while rural families struggling to cope faced transport and employment challenges.

He said: “If you live in a rural community it is harder to find employment, to travel to jobs, to find suitable housing, and to make ends meet when money is tight.

“Living costs are between ten and 20pc higher than for those who live in a town. Many families are struggling and the situation looks set to get worse.”

Ormiston’s warning came as an Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report showed that despite the government’s tax and benefits policies, 600,000 more children in the UK would fall below the poverty line by 2015.

A government spokesman said the IFS had not fully taken into account the changes expected from welfare changes and reforms to the education system.

Mr Prescott added: “This national warning (from the IFS) is a real wake up call that child poverty is increasing.

“However, we have to be realistic in that the situation is far worse for families on the poverty line who live in isolated rural communities, without access to decent public transport to get them to the jobs and support services they need.”

n What do you think about the poverty situation in Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.


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