NEARLY half of children brought up in some deprived areas of Barrow are living in poverty, an official report has found. 

In Barrow's central ward - covering homes in the town centre - child poverty stands at what the town's MP described as a 'shocking' 47.5 per cent.

The town also has the highest levels of child poverty in Cumbria with an average of 22 per cent of children living in poverty - compared to the county average of 14.9 per cent.

Seven wards throughout Cumbria now rank in the top 10 per cent of wards nationally for high levels of child poverty.

The figures were revealed by Cumbria County Council in a draft report examining the issue countywide.

The authority is preparing an anti-poverty strategy for the county to tackle the issues.

Poverty is largely decided on the level of income into a household.

Labour MP Mr Woodcock has now called for 'urgent and co-ordinated action' to address issues such as school achievement, skills, employment, housing standards and access to support.

He said: “Some of the figures for child-poverty in Barrow are truly jaw dropping – if serious action is not taken, then this will not just be a problem for today, but will blight the future prospects of hundreds of young people growing up in Barrow now.

“The Furness Poverty Commission identified pockets of deprivation like Central ward, and it also clearly identified some of the root causes of poverty - low achievement in school leading to low skills; poor quality housing leading to fuel poverty; a lack of access to banking services meaning too many families rely on loan sharks; and a social security system that can be unresponsive and prone to delays and mistakes that prove costly to families.

“These figures are a wake-up call and demonstrate why we need a genuine anti-poverty strategy that will bring together local government, voluntary groups and communities to help remove the scourge of child poverty in Barrow and Furness.”

The survey also found that the median household income in Cumbria has fallen by seven per cent since 2009 - compared to a national fall of five per cent.

Median household income in Allerdale, Eden and South Lakeland is reported to have fallen by as much as nine per cent.