One in three Walsall children live in deprivation, figures show

The extent of increasing poverty in Walsall has been revealed with data showing one in three under-16 year olds live in deprivation.

Figures show the number of children needing free school meals in Walsall
Figures show the number of children needing free school meals in Walsall

The 2019 Index of Multiple Deprivation showed Walsall is ranked the 25th most poorest out of 317 local authorities, placing it in the 10 per cent most deprived districts in the country.

And the issue is getting worse as the borough was placed 33rd in 2015, 30th in 2010 and 45th in 2007

Members of Walsall Council’s children’s services committee were also told that one in three youngsters aged under 16, or 29.1 per cent, were living in low income families. This is above the national average of 20 per cent.

Helena Kucharczyk, head of performance improvement and quality, said the north locality of Walsall, Birchills-Leamore, Blakenall, Bloxwich East and Bloxwich West, was the overall most deprived.

East Walsall, made up of Aldridge North and Walsall Wood, Aldridge Central and South, Streetly, Pheasey Park Farm, Brownhills, Pelsall and Rushall-Shelfield wards, was least deprived.

The south, with Paddock, Palfrey, Pleck and St Matthews wards was described as a mixed bag and a tale of two halves with poverty on one side and well paid jobs on the other.

And the west of Walsall, Bentley and Darlaston North, Darlaston South, Short Heath, Willenhall North and Willenhall South, was similar to the north with the largest number of benefits claimants.

The statistics presented to the meeting on Tuesday, November 23 showed:

People claiming income related benefits:

North: 878 claimants (32 per cent of the area population)

East: 228 (eight per cent)

Central & South: 331 (12 per cent)

West: 1,292 (42 per cent)

People claiming Universal Credit:

North: 1,636 claimants (27 per cent of the area population)

East: 574 (10 per cent)

Central & South: 918 (15 per cent)

West: 2,867 (48 per cent)

People in receipt of tax credit:

North: 224 claimants (21 per cent of the area population)

East: 84 (eight per cent)

Central & South: 301 (29 per cent)

West: 439 (42 per cent)

The number of children aged between 0-17 in each area is:

North: 15,931

East: 17,964

Central & South: 17,302

West: 18,043

Children receiving free school meals:

North: 4,516 children (32 per cent of the area population)

East: 2,204 (16 per cent)

Central & South: 3,034 (21 per cent)

West: 3,838 (27 per cent)

A total of 605 children attending Walsall schools but living outside the borough also receive free school meals.

Request for Early Help support (between April 2019 and March 2021):

North: 2,491 (28 per cent of Early Help contacts)

East: 1,652 (18 per cent)

South & Central: 1,799 (20 per cent)

West: 2,366 (26 per cent).

The council also received requests for Early Help support from 750 people currently living outside the borough.

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub contacts in 2020/21:

North: 3,282

East: 2,042

Central & South: 2,375

West: 3,194

Children on Protection Plans (March 2021):

North: 68

East: 19

Central & South: 26

People aged 0-25 on education, health and care plans (March 21):

North: 734

East: 687

South & Central: 528

West: 677

A further 23 living outside of the borough are also on the plans.

Children in care (March 2021):

North: 231

East: 98

South: 144

West: 188

Youth Justice:

North: 49 offenders/144 offences

East: 21 offenders/85 offences

South: 36 offenders/79 offences

West: 33 offenders/107 offences

Fixed-term exclusions:

North: 1,555

East: 969

South & Central: 753

West: 614

Out of borough: 651

Permanent exclusions:

North: 69

East: 38

South & Central: 39

West: 61

Out of borough: 34

Helena Kucharczyk said: "One in three children aged under 16 are living in low income families.

"That is just under 30 per cent which is higher than the national average of 20 per cent so there are lots of challenges facing our children in Walsall."

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