WORK to combat child poverty in Blackburn with Darwen is to be examined at a meeting next week.

Blackburn with Darwen Council director of public health, Dominic Harrison, will update the borough’s health and wellbeing board on the issue, which he says has been exacerbated by reduction in benefits available to families with children since 2010.

Mr Harrison says this has disproportionately affected those who were already among the most disadvantaged.

He added: “This has particular resonance in Blackburn with Darwen, where it is estimated that nearly half of children are living in poverty.

“For many, this means a childhood of insecurity, educational underachievement, and isolation from their peers. Research shows that not only does poverty have an impact on their health and life chances, but it is likely to affect the next generation too, unless we can address the root causes.

“Locally, a lot of excellent work is being done to mitigate the effects of child poverty.

“There are holiday lunchbox schemes, advice and guidance on financial and welfare matters for parents, mentoring programmes for young people – almost every agency is, in some way, working to reduce the effects of poverty on local families.

“However, in Blackburn with Darwen our biggest opportunity lies in developing a model of economic growth that addresses child poverty.”

Last month, research by Loughborough University found that 69.6 per cent of children in Blackburn's Bastwell ward were said to be living below the breadline.

And nearby Audley and Queen's Park's rate was barely better, on 68.8 per cent.

This compares to just 17.8 per cent in parts of rural Darwen and 19.6 per cent in Livesey with Pleasington.

Mr Harrison added: "Child poverty is associated with a range of negative health outcomes, including increased infant mortality, poor oral health, reduced physical activity and higher levels of respiratory illness.

"The worse the poverty, the greater the impact on health.

"Persistent early years poverty is linked to lower cognitive development, even after controlling for background characteristics and parental inputs

"A growing employment rate is no longer helping families out of poverty as it once did. People in many parts of the country are locked out of opportunities to access good jobs and we can no longer rely on previous assumptions that prosperity will trickle down. "A growing body of evidence is showing that simply driving up output growth and the number of jobs in an economy is not guaranteed to improve living standards for people in or at risk of poverty.

"In-work poverty has been steadily rising and one in eight workers now live in poverty.

"Since the early 2000s, people getting stuck in low-paid jobs, along with high housing costs and cuts to benefits, all mean that the poorest fifth of households have seen next to no growth in real incomes after housing costs are taken into account.

"This is why we need inclusive growth."

The report will be discussed by the health and wellbeing board when it meets on Tuesday.