Nearly half of children in parts of the North East are living in poverty, shocking new figures show.
In Elswick, Newcastle, more than 47% of children are living below the breadline, making it one of the most deprived areas in the region, according to the Campaign to End Child Poverty.
This is in comparison to just 3.6% of children in Stocksfield, Northumberland, who are living in poverty.
Children from the North East’s most deprived areas have today taken up the fight to end child poverty, by marching on Parliament and thrusting their own manifesto under MP’s noses.
Chair of End Child Poverty David Holmes said:
“These figures reveal just how widely and deeply child poverty reaches into our communities, even those areas generally regarded as well off.
“Far too many children whose parents are struggling to make a living are suffering as a result and missing out on the essentials of a decent childhood that all young people should be entitled to. We can and must do better for our children.
“Poverty ruins childhoods and reduces life chances. Failing to invest properly in children is a false economy: already child poverty costs the country £29bn each year and in the long run taxpayers will foot an even higher bill for correcting the damage.
“We are calling on politicians of all parties to urgently set out a clear roadmap towards ending child poverty which includes the additional actions needed and the measures by which progress will be tracked.”
Today’s figures are based on the proportion of children living in low income households.
Either their families are in receipt of out of work benefits or in receipt of in-work tax credits or their income is less than 60% of median income after housing costs.
On average throughout the UK, nearly one in six children are classified as below the poverty line before housing costs, while one in four are in poverty once housing costs have been deducted from their income.
Alan Milburn, who chairs the Social Mobility and Child Poverty (SMCP) commission said current levels of child poverty in the North are a “moral outrage” and have to change.
The former Labour cabinet minister said:
“Poor kids in the region are four times as likely to be poor adults.
“The poorest kids in the region’s schools face a double whammy. They arrive at primary school less ready to learn than their more privileged peers and only a third leave primary school with the required levels of reading and writing.
“Two in three of those kids then leave secondary school without five good GCSEs. The challenge we have in this country is at large in the North.”
According to the North East advisory group on child poverty in the North East figures show that in some areas, noticeable improvements have been made.
Against many indicators the North East is no longer the region with the worst levels, but there is no cause for complacency, says chair of the North East Child Poverty Commission, Murray Rose.
“Child poverty remains a real and serious problem for the North East,” he said. “Worryingly, there are signs that, while ‘relative poverty’ has been falling, this is partly due to falling average incomes, and ‘absolute poverty’ has begun to increase.
“The Institute for Fiscal Studies has suggested that child poverty is likely to increase, rather than decrease, over the next six years, meaning the Government will fall well short of its child poverty reduction targets.
“Another area of real concern is the level of severe poverty experienced by some families and children who are being impacted by changes to the social security and benefits system – the ‘welfare reform’ programme.
“Many of these impacts are not yet showing up in official statistics, and tend to be masked within wider averages.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 15 Oct 2014