Independent councillors call for united front to fight child poverty in Mansfield and Ashfield

New figures show child poverty is continuing to rise across Mansfield and Ashfield.
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And opposition councillors at Nottinghamshire Council are now called for councillors of all parties at County Hall to work together to eradicate child poverty in the county.

Research by the Schools Census show that in Ashfield, a record 5,523 pupils are now claiming free school meals – the biggest indicator of child poverty – while in Mansfield there are 4,932 pupils claiming FSM.

The opposition Independent Alliance described the figures as “worrying” and called for all councillors from all parties at the Conservative-led authority to work together to help eradicate child poverty.

Opposition councillors at Nottinghamshire Council are demanding all councillors do more to help fight child poverty. Photo: Getty ImagesOpposition councillors at Nottinghamshire Council are demanding all councillors do more to help fight child poverty. Photo: Getty Images
Opposition councillors at Nottinghamshire Council are demanding all councillors do more to help fight child poverty. Photo: Getty Images

Coun Francis Purdue-Horan, alliance education spokesman, said: “It’s clear the cost-of-living crisis has a firm and growing grip on this county. A growing number of children are starving and as a council, we need to do more to eradicate poverty.

“We need to work together as a county to eradicate child poverty and look at every possible solution to help end hunger.”

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Coun John Cottee, council cabinet member for communities, said: “As a council, we are working hard to identify and tackle child poverty.

“This forms part of a long-term strategy in cooperation with our partners rather than a one-off response to a particular set of statistics or specific factors such as the Covid pandemic or the current cost-of-living situation, although we have released significant extra funds to address these pressures.

“We have been exploring new ways of promoting the take-up of free school meals, so any increase in awareness of and access to the associated funding by families who need it is a positive thing.

“Since May 2021, we have delivered significant financial support to families eligible for free school meals through various funding streams. Last winter, we announced a package of cost-of-living support worth £700,000 targeted at families most in need, including grants for voluntary groups and community organisations to help them continue their vital work.

“Families in receipt of FSM have also been eligible for a summer payment, based on the number of eligible household members, worth about £100, resulting in more than 14,600 families benefiting. These households will also be entitled to a winter payment.”