Published: 00:01, 24 January 2018
More than 93,000 children in Kent are living in poverty, statistics published by the End Child Poverty coalition today estimate.
Thanet has the highest rate of child poverty in Kent and the south east, with around 10,500 children affected.
Figures from the centre for research in social policy at Loughborough University show 34.7% of children were thought to be in poverty in the district last year, after housing costs.
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Dover was the next worst in Kent with 6,709 youngsters living in hardship, amounting to 29.5% of the town's children.
Shepway and Swale also posted high rates of child poverty of 27% each - adding up to a total of 14,706 young people.
Meanwhile, Tunbridge Wells has the lowest rate of children in low-income families in the county at 16.6%.
The average rate in Kent comes in at almost 30%, with an estimated total of 93,269 children living in poverty across the county.
Anna Feauchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “Poverty can hold children back in many different ways.
“It can mean children don’t reach a good level of health or development, do well in school or reach their potential in employment.
“The government has pledged action though its social mobility policy, but the scale of child poverty that this new data reveals, means we urgently need a wider commitment from across government to improve the living standards of children, young people and families.
“In particular, we need action to address the devastating impact of benefit cuts on families, including those with disabled children, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet.”
The coalition is also concerned that the impact of poverty may be exacerbated by a poverty premium - which means that low income families can face paying as much as £1,700 per year more than better off families, to buy the same essential goods and services.
A major contributor to this is the high cost of credit for low income families, and the coalition wants to see the government address this by providing better access to interest free credit.
But Kent County Council (KCC) say the issue is being addressed regularly.
Matt Dunkley, director for children, young people and education at KCC said: “We recognise child poverty is a growing problem, both nationally and in Kent and that this presents a significant challenge.
"We have responded creatively by forming new partnerships, reshaping services and adopting new ways of working to ensure disadvantaged children and families, including those in poverty, are supported where and when they need help.
"The council recently integrated all of its children’s services into a single directorate, to create a more effective, coherent whole system approach to supporting vulnerable children and young people.
"Disadvantaged vulnerable learners are one of our strategic priorities. Our Vulnerable Learners Strategy brings together all the actions we are taking to improve outcomes for these children.
"It is designed to ensure that no child or community in Kent is isolated or left behind.”
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