STARTLING new figures reveal that thousands of Keighley children are being forced into poverty because key benefits are being cut.

Campaign group End Child Poverty says around 7,900 families in the parliamentary constituency are struggling to provide their children with the basics due to real-term cuts in child benefit and tax credit.

And the number of youngsters affected is estimated at a whacking 14,400.

Research by the group shows that across Yorkshire, one in five families has been hit.

Chairman David Holmes says a quarter of families are having to cut back on food and a fifth on heating, a situation he describes as "deeply worrying".

In 2012, the previous coalition government limited benefit rises to one per cent a year from 2013 to 2016.

But Mr Holmes is calling for this to end, saying child benefits should get the same 'triple lock' protection against cuts that the basic state pension received – meaning they would either rise in line with prices, earnings or by 2.5 per cent, whichever is the highest.

He said: "The new Government needs to seize the opportunity to stop the rise in child poverty."

Khurm Mehzar – co-ordinator of the Intouch Foundation, which runs a weekly soup kitchen in Keighley – says he is saddened but unsurprised by the figures.

"We have seen an increase ourselves in the number of young people and families coming forward for help," he said.

"Poverty is undoubtedly on the rise and we need to find a way of controlling it."

The foundation offers a mobile soup kitchen at Church Green every Wednesday, between 6.30pm and 8pm.

Numbers of users have soared to about 80 a week since the scheme was launched two years ago.

According to End Child Poverty's analysis, 5,900 families in the Shipley constituency – which includes Cullingworth and Denholme – are also affected by the benefit cuts, with the number of children totalling 9,600.

A Treasury spokesman refutes claims that families with children are not getting the necessary support.

She said: "The truth is that the percentage of people in the UK in relative poverty is at its lowest since the mid-80s and the Government has taken action to support low and middle income families with the costs of raising children.

"In the last parliament, the child element of tax credit – available to families with children on the lowest incomes – was increased by £180 above inflation to help support families on low incomes with children.

"The Government also helps families with the high costs of childcare, by funding 15 hours a week of free childcare for all three and four-year-olds."