Over 30% of children in Bradford live in poverty - double the England average

Credit: PA

The Chair of a health committee said it was "shameful" that over 30% of children in Bradford live in poverty - double the England average.

Bradford Council's Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee were this week given the latest figures relating to the health of Bradford compared to other areas of the country.

Across the district there were worrying trends in factors such as childhood obesity and children living in poverty.

Although there were health issues across all age groups, the committee was told that priority should be given to improving the health of children, as that would make "the biggest difference" to the overall health of Bradford.

The report reveals that 30.4% of children in Bradford were in "absolute low income families" where at least one benefit is claimed - one of the highest levels in the country.

The England average is 15.3%.

Duncan Cooper Consultant in Public Health, said Bradford lagged behind in a number of health measures, and the Covid pandemic had shone a light on these inequalities - and inequalities within different areas of the District.

He said: "The latest figures show that 22.3 per cent of Reception children in the district were classed as either overweight or obese.

"This rose to 40.8 per cent by the end of Year 6.

"Individual interventions with families can be difficult - we have to take a whole school approach into improving children's health."

Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

He said it was vital that schools helped children learn about the importance of healthy eating and getting regular exercise, which he referred to as a "magic medicine" in tackling poor health.

The meeting was also told about how poverty also had a massive impact on how children were able to learn during lockdown.

Mr Cooper said: "It might be that in places like Ilkley 100 per cent of people have access to computers for home learning. That might be just 40 per cent in more deprived areas of the District."

Chair of the committee Councillor Vanda Greenwood said: "It is shameful that 30 per cent of our children are in poverty.

When asked what was being done, Mr Cooper said Government funding had plummeted since 2010.

He said: "We have less money to do the same things. I feel we have to focus on young people. That is not saying older people don't matter, but with the diminishing amount of money we have we have to be clear about where we can make the biggest difference."

He said it could be more difficult for families living in inner city areas to exercise if they had little access to parks and green spaces, adding: "It is difficult to encourage people to get out and get involved in physical activity if there is nothing on their doorstep."