Posted: Tue 11th Jun 2024

Nearly 8,000 children in Wrexham now living in poverty for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area

Nearly 8,000 children in Wrexham are living in poverty, according to new figures published by the local authority.

The total amount of 7,853 equates to 26.7 per cent of youngsters living in the county borough.

Areas such as Queensway in Caia Park, Cefn Mawr and Acrefair are among the worst impacted locations, according to a report by Wrexham Council.

It highlights that families in poverty often go without heating or washing due to the cost, while children do not get enough food to sustain their physical and mental health.

Poor educational attainment, low quality housing and family breakdowns are among the other impacts cited, with more households reportedly experiencing poverty due to the cost of living crisis.

The council offers a range of support to families who are struggling, including via financial inclusion officers to assist residents with issues like rent arrears, utility bills and benefit claims.

However, a senior councillor has warned that a reduction in grant funding is delaying help to those in need.

In a report, Cllr Rob Walsh, Wrexham’s lead member for children’s services, said: “Queensway is classed as being in deep-rooted poverty, as it has been in the most deprived ten areas since the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation began.

“The Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation also notes that Queensway is the most educationally deprived small area in Wales, which can have a long-term impact of poverty on individuals and communities.

“A recent analysis of referrals open to the assessment and intervention social care team by electoral ward is reflective of this, with 13 per cent of open referrals coming from Queensway.

“The analysis also showed some emerging trends for the south of Wrexham seeing high numbers of open referrals (Cefn East and Acrefair North).

“Although this data provides context on areas of need in Wrexham, through working with families, we know that there are other areas that are impacted by poverty.”

He added: “In 2023/24 and going into 2024/25, there has been a number of reductions in key grants which fund services and projects in Wrexham to support children and families.

“This has resulted in increased waiting times across prevention services and has the potential to impact on increased need and the impact of poverty.”

The report shows that just over one in ten people in Wrexham are living in households classed as experiencing material deprivation, when a household can’t afford key goods and activities.

Around 26.2 per cent of children in the county borough are eligible for free school meals.

Meanwhile analysis by Audit Wales from 2021-22 indicates that more than five per cent of the population in Wrexham use food banks, the eighth highest level in Wales.

Highlighting the support on offer, Cllr Walsh said: “Financial inclusion officers assist residents with rents arrears, utility arrears, benefit claims, food bank, fuel bank and referral for targeted support from housing support where required.

“In addition, they will encourage clients to self-help and provide useful budgeting ideas, including meal planning.

“All estate office staff have been trained how to identify cases of destitution and provide the necessary support and signposting.

“From an investment perspective, housing are continually investing into housing stock.

“Through the void process, properties are now being triple glazed and highly insulated, energy efficient boilers or air source heat pumps are being installed, all of which should assist with reducing energy costs for residents.”

By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter

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