HASTINGS has the highest level of children living in poverty in the south east, figures have revealed.
Some 29 per cent of youngsters in the town are classed as living in poverty, compared to 19 per cent in neighbouring Rother and just eight per cent in Mid Sussex.
Hastings also scores well above the 23 per cent average for England.
The latest figures, published by charity End Child Poverty based on household incomes and outgoings, show many families are struggling as the country is faced with reduced incomes, redundancy, rising inflation and soaring food and fuel costs.
Syed Ali, social policy co-ordinator at Citizens Advice 1066, says a marker of poverty is being unable to pay rent or bills, buy food, repay debts or afford clothes for children.
And this week’s start of a new school year has placed added financial pressure on families.
“For some parents the back to school preparation can be worrying,” he said. “There are many who are unsure about whether they will be able to pay for everything their children needs.
“Being worried about whether you can afford school essentials is usually an indicator of deeper issues.”
Nearly a fifth of those who seek help with the Hastings advice bureau have children of school age, he added.
Elizabeth Finn Care, a charity which offers financial support, this week estimated the cost of putting a child through state secondary school - including travel, lunches, uniforms and trips - at £12,000.
Meanwhile, Which? magazine reports that school dinners will be up to 17 per cent more expensive this year, compared to the last.
Citizens Advice 1066 has a money advice unit which was set up specifically to deal with any money-related issues people may have.
Mr Ali said: “We are here to provide the advice people need for the problems they face and we also try to improve the policies and practices that affect people’s lives. The Citizens Advice service provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities.
Citizens Advice 1066 is at 24 Cornwallis Terrace and is open Monday to Friday between 10am and 1pm for a drop in service or follow on Twitter @Hastings1066CAB.