Leeds council has handed out £10m in emergency cash to struggling families

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Leeds city council has handed out £10m in emergency aid to struggling families since the impact of a wave of benefits cuts and rising living costs started to bite.

And the authority’s own research shows that an extra 2,000 children have been plunged into poverty since the latest string of national austerity measures started.

The latest figures come after the YEP reported that one Leeds area has been named the seventh worst hotspot nationally for child poverty, with almost 42 per cent of children in Leeds Central thought to be living below the breadline.

Councillor Debra Coupar, the council’s executive member responsible for communities said: “Poverty is the most important challenge our city is facing.

“As a city, we are working hard to mitigate the effects of poverty and have put some real actions in place. We work closely with partners from voluntary and advice organisations to make sure that the support we provide together can lift people and ultimately children out of poverty.”

The Citizens@Leeds programme was launched three years ago specifically to help people get out of poverty. The council also has a dedicated directorate to tackle poverty.

Meanwhile handouts to Yorkshire families from food banks remain worrying, say experts, with around 30,000 mark three-day emergency food parcels handed out by the Trussell Trust in the first six months of this year, 11,000 to families with children.

Adrian Curtis from the Trussell Trust, said: “Those figures remain really high, and so it remains clear to us that many families across Yorkshire are genuinely struggling between paying the bills and putting food on the table.

”The largest reasons are either delays to benefit claims being processed or sudden changes to the level people receive, but an increasing proportion of people are referred because of low income, so those can be hard working families struggling with low pay or insecure forms of employment.

“All indications are that referrals to Trussell Trust food banks remain high, and in many areas are still increasing. Therefore anything that impacts on people’s household income is clearly something we are concerned about and will be keeping a very close eye on.”

The charity is lobbying for the creation of a direct telephone line between foodbanks and local job centres.