The Evening Post reports that more than one in five children in Reading are raised in poverty.
Senior Labour Councillor Mike Orton is described in the same article as being 'horrified' by the figures and keen to challenge the current administration of the Council to tackle poverty in future.
I agree with Mike - these statistics are shocking and they highlight the scale of the task we face to try and make Reading a fairer, healthier, more successful Town for all residents. I am keen to make the Council focus more closely on what we can do to reduce child poverty although clearly responsibility does not lie entirely with the Council but other agencies too.
Sadly this issue is not news to me - in fact it was the basis for the cross-party scrutiny review I led with Cllr Mark Ralph (Conservative) earlier this year which challenged the complacent attitudes of the then Labour administration towards health inequality, and called for a concerted effort across local agencies to break the cycle of poverty in Reading. How depressing that the response of Labour councillors at the time was characterised by repeated attempts to rubbish me rather than take the issue seriously - hence when the review reported to Cabinet I was forced to argue that child poverty was too important an issue to be reduced to a political football.
Indeed had Cllr Ralph and I not raised serious concerns child poverty would not even have been discussed by councillors last Tuesday (one of our agreed recommendations was regular update reports to councillors to enable them to more effectively challenge the Council).
So with this in mind, my colleagues and I in the Coalition Administration are grateful for Cllr Orton's backing in our efforts to reduce poverty where high-spending Labour councillors and a Labour government, has so comprehensively failed the poorest children in our communities.