SPECIAL REPORT: We launch Fair Deal for Kids campaign to give all Northamptonshire children a chance in life

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It is 2015, yet more than one in five children in Northamptonshire are living in poverty.

Figures released earlier in the year show that in Northampton alone, just over 24 per cent of youngsters below the age of 16 live in a household which, after paying for housing, heating, food and essential clothing, has no disposable income.

The numbers compiled by a coalition of more than 100 charities as part of the Campaign to End Child Poverty make for stark reading across the rest of the county as well.

In Corby the survey, which took data over a two-month period at the end of 2013, found 25 per cent of young people to be in poverty, while there are 17 per cent in East Northamptonshire and 16 per cent in Daventry. A further break down of the figures make for even harder reading, particularly in urban areas.

The Castle area of Northampton, which includes the Spring Boroughs housing estate, sees 37 per cent of young people living bellow the breadline, with Lumbertubs less than a per cent behind.

But there are pockets of poverty throughout the country as well, in what might seem surprising places.

Irthlingborough Waterloo in East Northamptonshire sees a figure of 27 per cent, whereas Badby - a ward comprising of a cluster of rural villages outside of Daventry, Blisworth and Roade also share a figure of 23 per cent.

Poverty is a countywide problem - and something needs to be done. Which is why this week the Chronicle & Echo is launching its Fair Deal for Kids campaign.

With a new government settling into place this week, we are asking our county’s MPs to back us in driving the number of children in poverty down over the next term in parliament.

This week both Northampton North MP, Michael Ellis and Northampton South MP David Mackintosh have agreed to give the campaign their backing. Mr Ellis has pledged to work with private employers in the town to make sure more offer a living wage - as opposed to the £6.50 an hour minimum wage currently offered. He said: “I would like to see companies hiring people offering to pay a higher wage.

“We hear so much about people who are in a job, who are also forced to rely on benefits to supplement their income.

“I realise it is a big step for a lot of employers and not all of them are going to be able to - but quite simply if they can afford it, they should pay a living wage.”

And MP David Mackintosh said that : “It is important we do everything we can to tackle poverty at its source so I fully support the Chron’s campaign.

“The Government has committed to eliminating child poverty by 2020 and more than ever is being done to support children. As the economy continues to improve it means more people are in a job and we can support disadvantaged children better at school with free school meals and the chance for a better education. This is the kind of lasting life change that makes a real difference to children’s futures and opportunities.

“Of course, there remains much work to be done. Other measures to support low-income families will also help like tax-free childcare, raising the personal tax allowance, and the minimum wage will increase again in October. All of these will help families who are struggling and need help.”

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What our Fair Deal campaign will seek to achieve in coming months

Over the course of our Fair Deal for Kids campaign all of our newspapers in Northamptonshire are uniting to look at the root causes of poverty and what can be done to stamp it out in our county.

We want to involve Northamptonshire’s MPs, the borough and county councils, charities and employers across Northamptonshire - and we want to push those organisations to make changes.

But most importantly we want to know what you feel contributes to the stark poverty figures in our county, and what you feel needs to be done. We might not be able to stamp out child poverty altogether, but one thing is for certain , the figure of one in five children has to improve.

Northamptonshire County Council has given our campaign its backing and we hope to have many more over the next few weeks. A spokesperson for the authority said “A range of advice and support services is now available to families in all Northamptonshire libraries, making it even easier for parents to get help and information. The Children and Families Early Help Partnership brings together the key agencies involved in improving outcomes for children and families across Northamptonshire and all partners remain committed to reducing the effects of child poverty in this area.”