BOURNEMOUTH council has rejected accusations that it is “failing its poorest children” by not taking basic steps to tackle child poverty.

Research by the national family charity 4Children shows that Bournemouth has not published a child poverty strategy and did not appear to have carried out a needs assessment – despite the fact that 19 per cent of children in the town are said to be living in poverty.

The study also criticised Dorset County Council for not publishing a strategy, although it has carried out a needs assessment. Poole is the only one of our local councils to be praised for taking both steps in a bid to reduce its child poverty level of 16 per cent.

Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, said: “It is extremely worrying that most local councils are failing to put strategies in place to tackle child poverty.

“Unless local and national government work together to fight child poverty, millions more children will grow up to face a shorter life expectancy.

“With the number of children living in poverty predicted to grow, local councils need to be doing all they can to stop this from happening. Proper strategies enable them to lead the way in standing up for children living in their area.

“Those failing to do this are letting the country’s poorest children down.”

But Annette Harwood, service manager for children’s social care at Bournemouth council, said they did have a child poverty strategy in place and it was due to be published within the next week. She said the Kinson Anti-Poverty Group and local NHS partners had helped draw up the action plan.

“If we rushed this document and treated it as a tick-box exercise we would be failing those children in need,” she said.

“We conducted a thorough needs assessment of the local area to ensure we got it right to help tackle child poverty locally.

“In addition to this we are offering training for professionals who deal with children in poverty and also consulting with families in financial need.”