MORE than one in five children are growing up in cash-strapped families, new figures show.

The numbers of children living in families with relative low income has increased from 18 per cent to 23 per cent in four years.

This means there are 8,885 children in the area now come from low-income families.

Those living on absolute low income households is at 20 per cent ­— 7,594 ­— according to figures by the Department for Work and Pensions.

This figure was up in 2014/15.

A family is defined as low-income if they earn less than 60 per cent of the median income – a measure of average earnings which takes the middle point – before housing costs are taken into account, which is currently £308 per week.

Those who live in absolute low income households have a 'household income below 60 percent of median income' as compared to a rate fixed in 2010/11 and that only changes in line with inflation.

In Radcliffe East 25 per cent of children are growing up in low income families and in Redvales that figure stood at a third of children in both measures.

Children living in relative low income families (by numbers/percentage): Elton (434/19); Holyrood (333/16); Moorside (1,056/39); North Manor (146/9); Pilkington Park (214/13); Radcliffe East (619/25); Radcliffe North (390/20); Radcliffe West (703/26); Ramsbottom (269/12); Redvales (991/36); St Mary's (277/15); Sedgley (856/20); Tottington (174/10); Unsworth (270/16).

Children in families with absolute low income (by numbers/percentage: Besses (529/23); Church (235/14); East (1,108/40); Elton (366/16): Holyrood (280/13); Moorside (931/34); North Manor (129/8); Pilkington Park (193/11); Radcliffe East (514/21); Radcliffe North (336/17); Radcliffe West (582/22); Ramsbottom (222/10); Redvales (859/32); St Mary's (260/14); Sedgley (688/16); Tottington (138/8); Unsworth (225/13).

Across Great Britain, the proportion of children belonging to families on low incomes rose slightly to 18.4 per cent in 2018-19, compared to 18.2 percent the year before. This amounts to 2.3 million children throughout Britain, which the Children's Society says "should appal us all".

Dr Sam Royston, director of policy and research at the charity, said: "Living in poverty has a hugely damaging effect on children's lives, leaving them more likely to experience low well-being, poor mental health and with poorer future prospects.

"Without substantial intervention the coronavirus will undoubtedly unleash further harm to the poorest in society. There is no time to waste."

The charity is calling for the Government to end the five-week wait for Universal Credit and make a long-term commitment to local welfare assistance.

The DWP figures show huge variation across Great Britain, with 38 per cent of children under 16 in low income families in Oldham, the worst-affected area. Excluding the City of London, which is home to just a few hundred children, Elmbridge, in Surrey, had the lowest proportion at just six per cent.

Helen Barnard, acting director of the think tank Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said an uplift of £20 per week for families with children claiming Universal Credit would keep many from being pulled into poverty.

She added: "Children growing up in poverty are locked out of opportunities and unable to take part in society to the same extent as their peers. As a compassionate society, we cannot accept this.

"The coronavirus crisis has shown us that we want to support each other and protect each other from harm.

"By taking action now, we can ensure that the human suffering of this tragic pandemic is not compounded by rising child poverty, damaging life chances and holding a generation back in the years to come."

A Government spokesman said the number of children and pensioners in absolute poverty has fallen by 200,000 compared to 2010.

He added: "This government is wholly committed to supporting the lowest-paid families and has already taken significant steps including raising the living wage, ending the benefit freeze and increasing work incentives.

"We're giving councils an unprecedented package of support, including £4.3 billion of emergency funding during the coronavirus pandemic and we have injected over £6.5 billion into the welfare system, including increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by up to £1,040 a year."