For a further year, South Thanet tops the Kent league for all the wrong reasons, with new figures released by the charity - End Child Poverty finding an overall child poverty rate for South Thanet at 20.42% as at December 2013. Within this are significant ward variations, from Cliftonville West ward at 35.65% and Bradstowe at 9.87% and Sandwich at 11.9%. Remarkably, when looking at the national figures, 9 of the 20 constituencies with the worst child poverty figures are in London. 

Whenever these figures are reported, they are often accompanied by Dickensian style photographs depicting a child subject to abject and absolute poverty; emotive images that do not fully explain the real facts. The recording measures introduced by the Child Poverty Act 2010 usefully highlight differences across the country for comparing like for like, but do they highlight true poverty by measuring it simply as family income of less than 60% of the median average income.  

In South Thanet there are a higher number of children in care that have come from elsewhere. Often described by many residents as “dumping”. Questions must be asked whether children, detached at great distance from their roots and families is the best environment for them, too often leading to poor outcomes, or indeed how positive this can be for local residents.  

Undoubtedly Thanet has significant difficulties of the importing of problems from elsewhere but also has structural problems of fewer job opportunities and often lower paid work, hence a powerful reason why Manston airport, offering an opportunity for significant numbers of higher value jobs remains a powerful and totemic force in the area, and why local Conservatives support its reopening.  

Craig Mackinlay said “I am proud of the measures taken by this government to invest in Thanet, with more to come, particularly in improved rail services. There are a huge variety of business start-up schemes now available, and benefit changes that encourage routes back to work. With close to 2 million new national apprenticeships and job creation on an unparalleled scale, these are the measures to eradicate child poverty for good.  

Our nationwide Child Poverty Strategy sets out to tackle the root causes of child poverty, supporting families into work, increasing their earnings and raising educational standards. This together with Kent’s Troubled Family Programme will improve the figures for South Thanet and I hope next year’s show significant improvements.”