FOUR in ten children are living in poverty in some parts of Gwent, according to new research commissioned by a group of children’s charities.

The study report found some local authority wards in Newport and Torfaen had among the highest rates of child poverty in Wales, after housing costs had been taken into account.

In the Pill and Liswerry wards of Newport, an estimated 44 per cent of children are living in poverty. The average rate of child poverty in the Newport area is 32 per cent.

The Loughborough University report was commissioned by the End Child Poverty coalition.

“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,” Anna Feuchtwang, the coalition's chairwoman, said. “And we know that work alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.”

The responsibility for citizens' well-being is a joint responsibility of the partners on each local authority's Public Service Board.

In Newport, a spokeswoman for the local authority said the city's board had "undertaken detailed community assessments for each Newport ward and developed interventions to sustainably improve well-being".

She added: "Causes of relative deprivation are often complex and are driven by global economic trends as well as central government policy.

"As a council, and with our partners, we strive to focus our limited resources on mitigating the impact of poverty on opportunity and limiting the numbers of people who fall into relative deprivation.

"Education is a key part of this and Newport continues to have very strong educational results and, along with the direction of considerable community based resource, this has helped significantly reduce the numbers of young people leaving compulsory education without a planned next step."

South Wales East AM Delyth Jewell described the report's findings as "heart-breaking".

In a statement, she said: “Cuts to public funding need to be reversed as a matter of urgency and measures designed to ease the burden of hard-pressed families should be implemented immediately."

The Plaid Cymru AM encouraged families finding themselves in a financial emergency to contact her office for assistance with accessing support.

In Torfaen, the average child poverty rate is 30 per cent, with the highest rates found in the Upper Cwmbran (43 per cent), Greenmeadow, Snatchwood, Trevethin, and St Cadocs & Penygarn (all 41 per cent) wards.

The average child poverty rate in Blaenau Gwent is 34 per cent, with the Six Bells and Llanhilleth wards (40 per cent) worst-affected.

Thirty-two per cent of children in Caerphilly county borough live in poverty, the study found, with 38 per cent of children living below the poverty line in six wards – Bargoed, Moriah, Pontlottyn, Twyn Carno, Cefn Fforest, and Pengam.

The lowest rates of child poverty in the Gwent region are to be found in Monmouthshire (23 per cent). The local authority wards with the highest rates of child poverty are Severn, Green Lane, Dewstow, and West End – with 31 per cent.

Ms Feuchtwang said the UK government’s own data showed the number of children living in poverty across the UK has increased by 500,000 since 2010.

“This just isn’t right,” she said. “Growing up in poverty means growing up trapped.

“It restricts a child’s chances of doing well at school, of living a healthy and happy life, and of finding well paid work as adults.

“We urgently need [the] government to set a course of action that will free our children from the grip of poverty.”