SHOCKING figures have revealed the large amount of child poverty across the county.

On a national scale, There were 4.1 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2017 to 2018, according to the End Child Poverty group.

That’s 30 per cent of children, or nine in a classroom of 30.

In south Essex, statistics from earlier this year show the council wards with the worst rates of deprivation in the country.

Rochford, Southend and Basildon were all in the top ten for towns suffering the most.

Rochford and Southend East came in at number four with 35 per cent of children in poverty.

South Basildon and Thurrock district saw 29.4 per cent of children in poverty and Basildon and Billericay with 29.2 per cent.

The figures are after housing costs have been paid.

Castle Point also came in fairly high with 25.1 per cent.

Samantha Keeble, 27, from Southend, has a six-year-old son and works part-time in a nursing home.

But she said she is always living beyond her means.

She told the Echo: “Once my rent is paid, it totally wipes out my wages.

“I get Universal Credit which gives me a bit of a top up but that all goes on childcare.

“When I first went on to Universal Credit before I was working, I had to wait six weeks to get anything at all.

“They give you an advance but it still wasn’t enough to cover my rent, which is almost £800.

“I’m lucky I had family to bail me out but it was such a stressful time not knowing if I could even keep my head above water.

“I dread to think what others in my situation who have no one would’ve done.

“You read about all these people ending their own lives because they literally just don’t know what to do or get out of the mess they’re in.”

National stories also revealed children going to school in winter with no coats on, or taking in unacceptable packed lunches to school including a leftover cold Happy Meal from McDonald’s.

Lone parents face a higher risk of poverty due to the lack of an additional earner, low rates of maintenance payments, gender inequality in employment and pay, and childcare costs.

Anna Feuchtwang, chair of the End Child Poverty coalition, said: “We know what causes child poverty and we know how to end it.

“We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs.

“And we know that work alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.

“Yet in many areas growing up in poverty is not the exception, it’s the rule with more children expected to get swept up in poverty in the coming years, with serious consequences for their life chances.

“Policymakers can no longer deny the depth of the problem or abandon entire areas to rising poverty.

“The Government must respond with a credible child poverty-reduction strategy.

“The Government’s own data shows that child poverty in the UK has been rising steadily in recent years. This just isn’t right.Growing up in poverty means growing up trapped.

“It restricts a child’s chances of doing well at school, of living a healthy and happy life, and of finding well paid work as adults. We urgently need Government to set a course of action that will free our children from the grip of poverty.’”

There are expected to be 5.2 million children living in poverty in the UK by 2022.

A staggering 47 per cent of children are living in lone-parent families are in poverty.

Councillor Ron Woodley, said: “I believe a lot of these areas, and Southend being one of them, are a transient population – a lot of people who come to Southend tend to stay longer.

“Families come down from London, and we don’t have sufficient housing in the borough.

“This administration is keen to build more homes for Southend people so they have somewhere decent and affordable to live. It’s down to nine years of really tight austerity, cuts to councils and their budgets.

“Unless we take action where people can live decently we are going to have this sort of thing. Other councils have to take responsibility.”