Charity calls on council to protect Hackney children as borough scores second worst in Britain

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Local politicians must crack down on illegal loan-sharks who “prey” on poor families if they are to prevent child poverty, a charity has said.

The comments from Save the Children come after it emerged Hackney is the second-worst place in the country for child poverty.

Only Newham has a greater risk of child poverty, according to a new report by credit reference agency Experian.

Graham Whitham, poverty policy advisor for Save the Children, said: “Local authorities like Hackney should protect young people in the face of government cuts by protecting Sure Start children centres and maintaining childcare so it is possible for parents to earn money to care for their children.

“Debt is also a real problem because there’s a prevalence of high interest lenders in places like Hackney.

“These doorstep lenders work by preying on individual estates or streets. It’s illegal so there’s nothing you can do. More needs to be done to stop them.”

Mr Whitham said child poverty was linked to a risk of unemployment – Hackney is also second worst borough in the UK – and any approach to poverty should involve getting parents into work.

He said: “It makes sense that Hackney would have a high risk of both unemployment and child poverty. Places where child poverty is high tend to have a lot of parents with parents struggling to find work.

“But also there’s a real problem of poverty for people who are within work. If you’re working only four, five or six hours a week it’s hard to provide for your child. We’d call for the benefits system to help parents who want to work a small number of hours.”

Four out of 10 Hackney children are living below the breadline, while the unemployment rate stands well over the national average at 11.

Councillor Rita Krishna, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Tackling child poverty and long term unemployment are high priorities for the Council. The underlying issues are complex, as is well recognised.

“We have reviewed our historic approaches and gained commitment from a range of partners to bring a systematic focus to the matter, and have agreed a wide ranging set of actions to address these areas.”