Leicester child poverty report: City 'on verge of emergency'

A network of food banks across Leicester and a new minimum wage for council staff are needed to battle child poverty, a new report says.

The Leicester Child Poverty Commission is recommending a minimum wage of £7.45 a hour for city staff to tackle what is described as a child poverty crisis.

The Labour-led city council launched the commission 18 month ago.

Leicester has 26,000 children living below the poverty line, according to national figures.

Deputy Mayor Rory Palmer said: "We are on the verge of a child poverty emergency."

According to guidelines, a family is considered to be living in poverty if its income is less than 60% of the national median income - currently around £357 a week for a couple with two children.

Image caption The city council report took 18 months to prepare

The level of child poverty in Leicester is 32% across the city while the national average is about 22%, according to the Campaign to End Child Poverty. The child poverty level in Nottingham is 35%.

"There are many deep-rooted long-term trends creating low household incomes - and these trends that need to be addressed," Mr Palmer said.

Catherine Stretton, head teacher at Marriott primary school in Aylestone, said: "A child without adequate food is a child that is not ready to learn."

Some of the report's recommendations include monitoring the number of payday loan providers in the city and providing money advice courses to families at the city council's children's centres.

The report also calls for a low-cost loan or lease scheme for fridges, cookers and beds for low-income families.

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