Child poverty is rife in Westminster - shock report

Sanchez Manning CHILD deprivation in Westminster is the highest in the UK, shock new figures have revealed. The borough – one of the richest in the country – topped the national survey ahead of tough inner-city estates in Birmingham and Manchester. Mozar

Sanchez Manning

CHILD deprivation in Westminster is the highest in the UK, shock new figures have revealed.

The borough - one of the richest in the country - topped the national survey ahead of tough inner-city estates in Birmingham and Manchester.

Mozart Estate in Queen's Park was identified as the single most deprived area in a detailed breakdown of the government figures taken from 2007.


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It comes at a time when poverty in the country is reported to be at an all-time high.

Now local MP Karen Buck has vowed to address the issue in a Private Members Bill which proposes all councils turn out an annual audit to compare poverty statistics.

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"The staggering wealth masks the staggering poverty," she said.

"So what we have to do is ask local authorities to benchmark annually all the information they have about the variation of deprivation between neighbourhoods."

A recent profile of the Queen's Park ward found virtually every child on the Mozart Estate is reliant on benefits. It is also says that the estate is within the three most deprived wards in England and the second most impoverished in Westminster.

Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour Group on Westminster City Council, blames the council for not doing enough to tackle the problems in and around the estate.

"It is entirely typical of Westminster that while it is one of the richest boroughs in the country with £12million in the bank, it can preside over a situation where the Mozart Estate is one of the most deprived in the country."

But Katie Ivens, who runs the local Real Action language school, said the council has spent millions on regeneration and thinks the investment now needs to come from Central Government.

She added that the soaring deprivation is largely due to the constant flow of non-English speaking immigrants who are coming from poverty-stricken countries.

"This is a kind of reception area for the world and the people settling here tend to be the poorer people," she said. "They are often large families who come from poor and often war-torn countries like Somalia and Eritrea. So they bring their poverty with them and have very low levels of English."

Having taught English for 11 years on the Mozart Estate she believes this is one way people can be lifted out of poverty.

"Our classes have a very fast impact because they put at least one parent in the position where they can apply for work and earn money. This means their children have better chances of success."

Cllr Brian Connell said the council is trying to reduce deprivation in the area through schemes to get people back into work.

"The council recognises that it faces tough challenges with a transient population from a variety of cultural backgrounds."

sanchez.manning@hamhigh.co.uk

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