ALMOST half of children are growing up in poverty in some areas of Halesowen and the Black Country, shocking new figures show.

Statistics show that 43% of children in Sandwell are living in poverty - the joint-highest in the West Midlands alongside Stoke-on-Trent.

That figure drops to 34% for children in the Dudley borough - but that still means more than a third of kids there are being raised under conditions of financial hardship.

And in some parts of Halesowen and its neighbouring areas that figure rises as high as 49%.

Areas with the highest child poverty figures, which take housing costs just as mortgages and rent into account, are:

Even in the better-performing areas, around a third of children (Halesowen North 33%, Belle Vale 33%) or about a quarter (Halesowen South 26%, Hayley Green and Cradley South 26%) are suffering from poverty.

Thomas Lawson, Chief Executive at poverty charity Turn2us, said: “It is simply unacceptable that, in some constituencies, half of our children are trapped in poverty.

“Poverty means hunger – and children and young people unable to concentrate in school.

"It means being bullied for dirty clothes your family can’t afford to wash. It means sleeping with your family in rooms designed for one in hostels and temporary accommodation. It’s no childhood.

“The growth in child poverty shows no sign of slowing down and if the Government is serious about fixing this they must respond to these statistics with an ambitious child poverty reduction strategy."

The End Child Poverty coalition, which released the figures after research at Loughborough University, says child poverty is becoming the ‘new normal’ in parts of Britain.

Anna Feuchtwang, coalition chair, said: "We know what causes child poverty and we know how to end it.

"We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs.

"And we know that work alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.

‘Yet in many areas growing up in poverty is not the exception it’s the rule with more children expected to get swept up in poverty in the coming years, with serious consequences for their life chances."

Out of almost 350 local authorities in England, Sandwell is 12th on the list of those facing the highest levels of child poverty.

Lesley Hagger, Sandwell Council’s executive director of children’s services, said: “We want every child to have a successful life but the impact of poverty on children is significant in terms of their life chances.

"The scale of the challenge to address child poverty is significant for the council, its partner agencies and local communities.”