THE extent of child poverty in the South West is laid bare today as it is revealed more than 170,000 children in the region are in families that are cutting back on food.

Research from the coalition End Child Poverty also reveals 130,000 children are in families cutting back on heating their homes.

According to the coalition’s new analysis, ‘Short Changed: The true cost of cuts to children’s benefits’, failure to increase Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit in line with the cost of living over the past three years, has caused more than one in eight families in the South West to struggle to provide their children with the basics. The majority of these children are in low-income working families.

The coalition is calling for urgent action to make sure that families – working and non-working – who are struggling to make ends meet can give their children the basics and help put the Government’s commitment to end child poverty by 2020 back on track.

Chairman of End Child Poverty David Holmes said: "It is deeply worrying that parents are having to cut back on food, heating and other essentials that their children need in order to develop and thrive.

"The new Government needs to seize the opportunity in the Queen’s Speech to stop the rise in child poverty. During the election campaign David Cameron promised not to cut Child Benefit, now is the time for him to keep that pledge.

“We think it is vital that child benefits keep pace with the cost of living and that the Government gives them the same protection as the state pension. This is an opportunity to be bold and to invest in our children’s future.”