More than one in five children are living in food poverty in Shropshire, it has been revealed.

Council bosses will be told that up to 27,000 families across the county have reduced their food budgets due to government welfare reforms.

The alarming figure is set to be discussed by Shropshire Council’s Communities Overview Committee next week.

The Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance will present a report to members of the committee highlighting how bad the situation has become.

Chris Westwood, welfare support manager at the alliance, said the figures were worrying.

He said: “Low wages combined with a high rate of part-time and insecure work makes it difficult for many households to keep pace with the increases in the cost of living.

“People on low incomes can struggle to access low cost, healthy food. 

“Many in poverty may not have their own transport and those in rural areas where public transport is limited,iceberg of problems whereby families have only the food budget left to cut and whilst foodbanks report that food crisis can cross social boundaries and affect anyone, there are many households living in chronic food poverty who are never able to afford a healthy diet.”

He added: “Food poverty affects some of the most vulnerable in our society across all age groups, including children, the elderly and those living with disability. 

“It is not confined to those out of work; working families are impacted during school holidays when there are no free school meals, and older people living alone increasingly face the challenge of buying and preparing healthy food especially where their health is deteriorating and particularly after being discharged from hospital.

“It is difficult to estimate the scale of the problem in Shropshire as currently there are no official measures of the level of food poverty but our own research suggests that more than one in five children in Shropshire are living in poverty and 27,000 Shropshire families, both in and out of work may have reduced food budgets due to welfare reforms.

“Shropshire households have collectively lost an estimated £102 million per year from their budgets due to welfare reforms since 2015 and 90 per cent feel that food poverty levels are increasing.”

He said a number of plans are in place to tackle food poverty in the county, with some larger foodbanks diversifying their support into a “foodbank plus” model to address the person’s underlying issues.

“Money issues including access to debt and budgeting advice and leading to more practical skills to make best use of their available money by teaching food budgeting and cooking skills is included,” he added.