Areas of deprivation hidden by Sevenoaks' affluent facade
SIX per cent of children from Sevenoaks town are officially living in poverty, the Chronicle can reveal.
New figures released by leading charity Child Poverty Action Group show there are significant pockets of deprivation hidden among Sevenoaks' affluent areas.
They also show there are huge variations in living standards within just a few miles, with Sevenoaks Northern ward (the Bat and Ball area) recording a relative poverty rate of 9 per cent, while Sevenoaks Kippington has just 2 per cent.
The charity has argued the figures demonstrated a worrying gap between the rich and poor, which is mirrored throughout the country.
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Kent county councillor Nick Chard believed Sevenoaks' reputation as a wealthy town masked the fact that some families struggled to make ends meet.
"It's right to identify that even in a relatively affluent place like Sevenoaks there are pockets of deprivation and that is not always totally recognised.
"There is greater deprivation between East Kent and West Kent, but we must not forget there are areas in West Kent that are deprived and we must make sure these are properly catered for."
A spokesman for the Child Poverty Action Group, Tim Nichols, said: "Communities living quite close to each other can be living very distinct lives and you can end up with a form of social segregation.
"It's a bad thing because you tend to get opportunities consolidating within certain social groups."
According to Mr Nichols, unless this is addressed it will further entrench inequalities.
"It becomes self-perpetuating," he added.
"You will get more suspicion and resentment, which will take you in the opposite direction of the public understanding that you need to support the policies that are going to make a positive difference."
The district as a whole is said to have a relative child poverty rate – where family income is less than £251 a week – of 11 per cent.
The problem is most acute in Swanley St Mary's, where 34 per cent of children are said to be living in poverty.
According to Government figures released earlier this month, the national average is currently running at 18 per cent.