Forty per cent of children are living in poverty in some areas on Milton Keynes, the Council has revealed today.
And many parents are having to chose between putting food in their children's stomachs or a roof over their heads.
Every neighbourhood in the borough has at least one child in ten living in poverty, and in some areas the figure shoots up to three out of every seven youngsters, statistics have shown.
Now the council has pledged to take urgent action to reduce the problem after Cllr Jane Carr brought a motion to a last night's meeting on behalf of her Liberal Democrat Group
She said: “Parents and carers shouldn’t have to choose between food in a child’s belly or a roof over their heads, or have to keep children inside on a hot day because they can’t afford sunscreen.
"We need action that makes a difference right away, as well as setting ourselves ambitious long term targets so MK’s children can reach their full potential. We’re working closely with the Labour-led administration on this because both parties want to drive positive change for local families.”
In 2012 a report commissioned for the council recommended focusing on employment to reduce child poverty. However, since then low wages, higher prices, limited or zero-hour contracts, and changes in benefit payments have pushed more parents into situations where they’re forced to choose between essentials such as food, heat and clothes for their children.
MK Council has now agreed to take immediate action such as providing free school dinners in the summer holidays to those in most need, and to bring together local talent into a Commission to lead the direction for its work.
Unusually, instead of membership being by invitation only, MK Council is asking interested local people to put themselves forward for the Commission. While it expects professional experts will be most interested, the council isn’t ruling out any applicants.
Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet Member for Children and Families said: “This is an opportunity to give something positive back to where you live. We want to hear from creative thinkers who know how to support families in need. Really tackling child poverty takes people ready to challenge conventions, people who can spot best practice and know how to apply it in Milton Keynes. The Commission will be stronger with a range of voices, just as we’ll need a range of partners to help us make child poverty a thing of the past.”