Thursday, February 21, 2013

Child Poverty in Lewisham and Greenwich: huge ward-level disparities

Yesterday the Guardian datablog published maps of child poverty data based on a report by the End Child Poverty Campaign. The campaign produced the data themselves and used the closest possible measure to that used nationally by the government (which is based on the percentage of children living in households earning below 60% of median income before housing costs). The figures presented are for mid 2012, although they've been calculated by applying national trends to local data from 2010, so are an estimate. (Interestingly the campaign say they don't have a local measure using the government's official definition, but this is published in the Public Health Outcomes Framework and on Local Health, both official statistics websites.)

The Guardian chose to present the data for Parliamentary Constituencies, presumably to link the numbers to a recognisable public face for each area, but the figures are available at ward level and reveal wide disparities within areas.

Just over 20% of children are living in poverty across the UK as a whole, and in London the figures range from 7% in Richmond-upon-Thames to 42% in Tower Hamlets and because housing is so expensive in London, if after housing costs figures were used, then these results would be much worse.

I decided to look at the ward-level data for Lewisham and Greenwich. The local authority figures are both 24%, just slightly above the national average figure. However, as soon as you break this down by looking at wards within local authorities a picture of big inequalities emerges. In Greenwich, Eltham North and Blackheath Westcombe have only 6 and 7% of children respectively living in poverty. The lowest figures in Lewisham are for Lee Green (14%) and Crofton Park (15%). And at the other end of the spectrum, Evelyn ward in Deptford has a staggering 37% of children living in poverty. The next nearest three wards each have 30%. Only Woolwich Riverside and Woolwich Common have figures above 30% in Greenwich borough (33 and 32% respectively).

Percentage of children in poverty,* Lewisham 2012
Ward                  number    percent

Lee Green                448       14
Crofton Park             488       15
Blackheath               479       17
Catford South            600       17
Forest Hill              584       18
Ladywell                 567       19
Perry Vale               842       22
Brockley                 701       23
Sydenham                 894       24
Grove Park               860       24
Rushey Green             821       24
Telegraph Hill           932       26
Whitefoot              1,193       28
Lewisham Central         991       29
Downham                1,265       30
Bellingham             1,291       30
New Cross              1,105       30
Evelyn                 1,679       37
*using the End Child Poverty Campaign data and definition
Source: End Child Poverty Campaign

Percentage of children in poverty,* Greenwich 2012
Ward                      number  percent

Eltham North                 148     6
Blackheath Westcombe         153     7
Shooters Hill                366    12
Coldharbour and New Eltham   352    13
Eltham South                 462    21
Kidbrooke with Hornfair      703    22
Plumstead                    893    22
Peninsula                    534    22
Greenwich West               708    24
Charlton                     827    25
Middle Park and Sutcliffe    822    25
Eltham West                  743    26
Thamesmead Moorings        1,544    27
Abbey Wood                 1,253    29
Glyndon                    1,287    29
Woolwich Common            1,530    32
Woolwich Riverside         1,528    33
*using the End Child Poverty Campaign data and definition
Source: End Child Poverty Campaign

Shockingly, if you take a look at where the best performing schools in Lewisham are located, it doesn't take a genius to work out where they might be... Brindishe Lee and Lee Manor schools both had 93% of their pupils achieving level 4 or above in English and Maths in the latest year for which data are available. Compare that with 71% at Deptford Park. And education isn't the only area that's affected by poverty, although it's certainly the one that is likely to impact most on likely future earning potential.

These figures should make anyone sit up and take notice and are also a reminder of what inequalities sit below the surface of figures presented at borough level.

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