One in eight children in Cherwell were living in poverty last year, new figures show.

Children’s charity Bernardo’s said youngsters “can’t be happy and healthy if they are going to bed in a cold home, on an empty stomach”.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show 3,765 Cherwell children aged under 16 were living in relative poverty in the year to March 2023.

It meant 12 per cent of children in the area were in a family whose income was below 60 per cent of average household income before housing costs. They also claimed child benefit and at least one other household benefit.

This was down from 14.1 per cent the year before and lower than the UK rate of 20.1 per cent.

Of all the children facing poverty in Cherwell, 1,015 were below school age.

Lynn Perry MBE, CEO of Barnardo’s, said: “Living in poverty means children miss out on opportunities and the activities that make childhood fun and support their development.

“The Government needs to urgently focus on reducing child poverty.

“That should start with a strategy for ending child poverty, including ending the two-child limit ‘sibling penalty’ on benefit payments and ensuring struggling families can afford essentials like food and household bills.”

Children’s commissioner for England Dame Rachel de Souza said she was “horrified” by the figures and called for welfare reform, including auto-enrolment for free school meals and more free breakfast clubs.