NEW figures have revealed Basingstoke and Deane has one of the lowest levels of child poverty in the south east.

The figures, released by the End Child Poverty coalition showed that in some places in the south east, more than a quarter of children are growing up in poverty.

However, the figures for Basingstoke and Deane revealed that 16.57 per cent of children were growing up below the poverty line, which is below many other areas in Hampshire.

Overall, this accounts for 6,363 children.

Out of the 66 local authorities in the south east, according the report Basingstoke and Deane was placed 40th on the list, placing the area in the lower half of all the authorities that there was data for.

Portsmouth is the local authority in Hampshire with the highest percentage of children in low income families, with 30.71 per cent, closely followed by Southampton, with 30.31 per cent.

The United Kingdom has 26.96 per cent of children in low income families, with England as a whole having 27.29 per cent.

In terms of parliamentary constituencies, Basingstoke was also below the national average.

The figures reveal that Basingstoke has 18.69 per cent of children who are in low income families.

It is estimated that overall as many as 380,000 children in the south east are living in poverty.

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “Poverty can hold children back in many different ways.

“It can mean children don’t reach a good level of health or development, do well in school or reach their potential in employment.

“The government has pledged action through its social mobility policy, but the scale of child poverty that this new data reveals, means we urgently need a wider commitment from across government to improve the living standards of children, young people and families.

“In particular, we need action to address the devastating impact of benefit cuts on families, including those with disabled children, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet.”

The End Child Poverty coalition is calling on the government to end the freeze on children’s benefits - currently in place until the end of the decade - so that families no longer see living standards squeezed as prices rise for other goods and services.

Cabinet Member for Communities and Community Safety at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Cllr Simon Bound, said: “To know that even one child is living in poverty, or at risk of falling below the poverty line, is one child too many.

"While it's positive news that levels in Basingstoke are below the national average, it’s clear we need to work even harder to reduce these figures further.

“We have a dedicated team here at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council who work in partnership with local organisations and Hampshire County Council’s Family Support Service to encourage effective support and guidance for children, young people and families. 

"This is a service we are very proud of, even though it’s still in its infancy, we’re encouraged by the progress already being made."