Tagged: child poverty

Child poverty figures to be rigged to allow tax credit cuts

There are growing indications from the government that the way child poverty is measured will be changed in order to allow tax credits to be cut, as part of the plan to reduce the benefits bill by £12 billion.

David Cameron dropped heavy hints in a speech on Monday that he plans to cut tax credits available to low paid workers. He said he wanted to see:

“A welfare system that encourages work – well paid work.”

However, he went on to add:

“The wrong track though, is to ignore the causes, and simply treat the symptoms of the social and economic problems we face.

“Take for example the complacency in how we approach the crucial issue of low pay. There is what I would call a merry-go-round.

“People working on the minimum wage having that money taxed by the government and then the government giving them that money back – and more – in welfare.

“Again, it’s dealing with the symptoms of the problem – topping up low pay rather than extending the drivers of opportunity – helping to create well paid jobs in the first place.”

If tax credits are cut, however, this is likely to plunge more low paid families with children into poverty.

Full story :  http://northstar.boards.net/thread/123/child-poverty-figures-rigged-credit

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Child poverty on course for biggest rise in a generation

Child poverty is on course for the biggest rise in a generation, reversing years of progress that began in the late 1990s, leading charities and independent experts claimed on Saturday.

The stark prognosis comes before the release of government figures which experts believe will show a clear increase for first time since the start of the decade.

Key policy decisions in the second half of the last parliament, including the introduction of the bedroom tax and cuts in benefits between 2013 and last year, are blamed for fuelling the rising number of families whose income is below 60% of the UK average – the definition of relative poverty.

Calculations from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) have suggested that progress between the late 1990s and 2010 has been reversed and that the number of children living in relative poverty rose from 2.3 million in 2013 to 2.6 million in 2014.

The Child Poverty Action Group says that with the government committed to implementing a further £12bn of benefit cuts in a new round of austerity, the problem of children living in poverty looks certain to grow for several more years.

Tens of thousands of people joined an anti-austerity march through central London on Saturday, Alison Garnham, the charity’s chief executive, said ministers were failing too many children in low-income families.

The government can no longer claim that deficit reduction is about protecting children’s futures now that it’s being made to confront a child poverty crisis, with the biggest rise in a generation now expected of its own making,” she said.

“With child poverty expected to rise by nearly a third in the decade to 2020 as a result of its policies, it’s clear the government’s approach is failing.”

Full story :   http://northstar.boards.net/thread/109/child-poverty-course-biggest-generation

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Poverty – And Child Poverty In Particular – Is Rising

Poverty in the UK is increasing after two years of heavy welfare cuts have helped to push hundreds of thousands of people below the breadline, according to an independent study of the coalition government’s record.

Although middle-earners saw incomes rise marginally after 2013, policies including the bedroom tax and below-inflation benefits rises have reduced incomes for the poorest, pitching an estimated 760,000 into poverty since the last official figures were produced, according to the New Policy Institute (NPI) thinktank.

Child poverty showed the biggest increase, with 300,000 youngsters moving into hardship, reversing a fall in the headline figure recorded in the coalition’s first year. NPI estimates 29% of UK children are in poverty after housing costs.

The study challenges Tory claims that child poverty has been reduced by 300,000 on the coalition’s watch. While that figure is officially correct, NPI says, the data on which it is based only applies to the three years between 2009 and 2012.

“The clear conclusion is that poverty in the UK is rising among all age groups,” the NPI’s research director, Tom MacInnes, told the Guardian.

“The trajectory over the second half of the coalition’s term has been a bad one. The next government, whoever wins next week, will be dealing with worsening, deepening poverty.”

NPI undertook the study after the government refused to bring forward the publication of official data which would have shown the impact on poverty figures of the major welfare reforms introduced in 2013, and enabled the coalition’s record to be properly scrutinised before the election.

Official poverty data for 2013-14 will not be published until June, while figures showing the coalition’s record in the final year of the parliament will not be available until June 2016.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group charity said:

“This important analysis shows the weakness of the claim being put about by ministers that they have got child poverty down despite making wide-ranging and deep cuts to benefits and tax credits.”

Responding to the report, a Conservative spokesman repeated the claim that there were fewer people in poverty compared to 2010.

“The truth is that the best route out of poverty is work, and there are now a record number of people in work – 2m more since the last election and 700,000 fewer workless households.”

Labour’s shadow welfare minister, Helen Goodman, said:

“This report shows that increasing levels of poverty under this Tory-led government are leaving millions of families struggling to make ends meet.”

Child poverty fell in the first year of the coalition, under the tax and benefits framework inherited from Labour, and remained stable for two years as median incomes fell, the study says. It started to rise again after April 2013 when a series of benefit cuts were introduced, alongside increases in tax allowance.

The median weekly income fell from £425 in 2009-10 to £392 in 2012-13, inching up to £395 by the end of the parliament, says NPI, largely as a result of increased tax allowance and rising employment. But the weekly income of the poorest 10%, which was £174 five years ago, has fallen to £160.

The upward trend in relative poverty over the past two years has affected all groups, the study finds, including working families and pensioners, while the numbers of people identified as being in severe poverty also rose.

The Child Poverty Act requires the government to reduce relative child poverty to below 10%. Latest official figures, which differ from the NPI model in that they measure poverty before housing costs are taken into account, show that 17% of children are below the breadline.

Labour says it will keep the target, though admits it is “very unlikely to be met”.

The Conservatives say they will “work to eliminate child poverty”.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has estimated that child poverty will rise to 23% by 2020.

A person is defined as in poverty if their household income is below 60% of the median, while “deep poverty” refers to people in households where income was less than 50% of the UK median.

The study, using a model developed by NPI, estimates income and poverty levels for 2013-14 and 2014-15 using 2012-13 data adjusted for changes in population, employment, earnings, benefits and prices.

According to NPI, the government said the decisions on publication dates were not political. But a spokesman for NPI said:

Given the significance of recent policy changes and welfare reform to the poverty landscape, not publishing official statistics before the election is also political”.

Source – The Guardian, 29 Apr 2015

 

Tory manifesto: no clues on benefits cuts but threats of compulsory treatment

The Conservative manifesto launched today gives no further clues about which benefits they intend to slash in order to cut £12 billion from the social security budget. The manifesto does, however, include plans to look at enforced treatment for people with long-term health conditions.

The 83 page document repeatedly confirms the Conservative’s plan to find £12 billion in ‘welfare savings’. But little more than a page is devoted to the details of how ‘welfare savings’ are to be achieved.

The manifesto confirms that the household benefits cap will be lowered from £26,000 t0 £23,000 – with exemptions for people getting disability living allowance or personal independence payment.

There is also confirmation of the freeze on working age benefits for two years from April 2016, with exemptions for some benefits, including disability benefits.

The manifesto pledges that the Conservatives will ‘work to eliminate child poverty’ which, in the Conservative’s view is caused by ‘entrenched worklessness, family breakdown, problem debt, and drug and alcohol dependency’ .

To aid their attack on poverty the Tories have also committed to review how people with long-term treatable conditions ‘such as drug or alcohol addiction, or obesity’, can be helped back into work. People who refuse help will face having their benefits cut, as the manifesto explains:

‘People who might benefit from treatment should get the medical help they need so they can return to work. If they refuse a recommended treatment, we will review whether their benefits should be reduced.

There is also a promise of ‘significant new support for mental health, benefiting thousands of people claiming out-of-work benefits or being supported by Fit for Work’.

Whether refusing this help, likely to be primarily online and telephone-based cognitive behavioural therapy, will also lead to benefits cuts was not discussed in the document.

However, there is no doubt that conditions such as anxiety and depression are regarded as ‘treatable’ conditions by the DWP. There is, therefore, no obvious logical reason why they should not be dealt with in a similar way to conditions such as substance dependency, which will very frequently have a mental health element.

The Tory manifesto also promises to extend the right to buy to tenants of housing association homes. Whether some claimants in social housing will consider voting for Tory benefits cuts in the hope they will then get a chance to own a home of their own remains to be seen.

But, for most claimants, the Conservative manifesto simply prolongs the terrible anxiety of not knowing how deeply their benefits will be slashed if the Tories win power on May 7th.

Source –  Benefits & Work,  14 Apr 2015

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3072-tory-manifesto-no-clues-on-benefits-cuts-but-threats-of-compulsory-treatment

North East teachers bringing food into work for hungry children

Teachers are being forced to bring food into school to feed hungry children, a North East union leader has warned.

Simon Kennedy, regional organiser of the teaching union NASUWT, said school-funded breakfast clubs and teachers bringing food into work was a “sad situation” for the fourth richest country in the world.

However, the Conservative Party said the number of children living in poverty in England and Wales has fallen by 300,000 during the party’s term in office.

Speaking after the NASUWT held its annual conference in Cardiff at the weekend, Mr Kennedy said child poverty has become a growing problem.

“Kids are coming into school hungry and that is affecting their educational attainment,” he said.

“Teachers are bringing food into work because these children would sometimes not otherwise eat.

“Schools are also dipping into their budgets to pay for breakfast clubs which were originally set up to encourage healthy eating among children.

“So many parents in the North East are relying on , especially in Newcastle which has the busiest foodbank in the country.

“Whichever government comes in needs to increase the amount of investment in education. But a basic part of our society should be to ensure that our children are fed. Children of today should not be left to go hungry.”

Teachers at the conference also raised the problem of excessive workload, which they say is not only damaging their mental health, but also driving talented teachers out of the profession.

Nearly 90% of teachers at the conference cited excessive workload as the greatest concern they have about their job.

Mr Kennedy said: “Many teachers work every evening and every weekend and they’re not being paid for it.

“There is this endless drive to improve and what’s best for the child and the teacher has gone out of the window.

“School management is being forced to focus more on the league tables and the next Ofsted inspection rather than the children’s needs.

“Increased workloads, coupled with a cut in pay for teachers, has led to many in the profession leaving work or suffering from mental health problems.

“Media coverage would have you think teachers are failing our young people in some way, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Meanwhile, teachers have backed calls for a ballot on strike action over shortfalls to school funding.

The ballot motion was backed at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference in Harrogate, where members heard claims that funding shortages would threaten redundancies.

A Conservative spokesman said:

“Under the Conservatives, the number of children living in poverty has fallen by 300,000.

“Extending free meals has led to over a million more children eating a school meal at lunchtime and by introducing the Pupil Premium, we are targeting an extra £2.5 billion toward the education of the most disadvantaged every year, which helping close the attainment gap with their peers.

“Thanks to our policies, there are more jobs than ever before, wages are rising faster than prices and with the lowest inflation on record, family budgets are starting to go further. The NASUWT should recognise how the Conservatives have rescued the economy, and through that, are delivering the jobs that secure a better future for families.

“Our Child Poverty Strategy is tackling poverty at its source: dealing with the problems of worklessness and family breakdown which blight the lives of vulnerable families. But we know that there is much more to do. We need to stick to our long-term economic plan, so that all children have the best possible start in life.”

> All I can say is it’s a good thing Pinoccio isn’t a government spokesman…

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 08 Apr 2015

Autumn Statement: Greens Slam Osborne’s ‘Ideological Commitment To Austerity’

The Young Greens have heavily criticised the government’s “ideological commitment to austerity”, following Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement.

George Osborne renewed the government’s commitment to control welfare spending by “freezing Universal Credit work allowances for a further year, cutting tax credits when overpayments are certain, and ending unemployment benefits for migrants with no prospect of work.”

The Chancellor also reiterated David Cameron’s pledge to freeze working-age benefits for 2 years, if the Tories win a majority in the next general election.

Georgia Elander, of the Young Greens’ National Committee, said:

“It’s clear that austerity isn’t working for anyone. The government borrowing forecast for this year has been raised from almost £87bn to £91.3bn, and Danny Alexander has attributed this to falling tax receipts due to people being in lower-paid jobs.

“Meanwhile, young people across the country are struggling to get by on low wages and zero-hour contracts, seeing their benefits stripped away, and being forced into workfare in order to claim any welfare at all.

“This isn’t good for the economy, young people, or the rest of the country. George Osborne’s dogged insistence on pursuing the spending cuts and deficit reduction policies of the last five years, despite their clear failure, illustrates this government’s dangerous ideological commitment to austerity.

“Osborne’s continued refusal, too, to raise taxes on the wealthiest in society shows once again that this government operates for the benefit not of the many but of the wealthy few.”

She added:

The Green Party would implement a wealth tax on the top 1% and a financial transaction tax, to make sure that it is the richest individuals and corporations and not the poorest who contribute the most to funding vital public services.”

The Young Greens say austerity measures are also having a wider impact on young people’s mental health, with low wages, unemployment and welfare cuts leading to an increase in stress, depression and suicide.

They welcomed the government’s pledge to invest £150 million in tackling mental health problems, particularly for children who suffer from self harm and eating disorders, but added:

“Mental health provision in this country is grossly underfunded, and while this funding pledge is a step in the right direction, much more needs to be done.

“We need to improve access to mental health services, and work to remove the stigma around mental health, so that children and young people with depression and other mental health problems can be diagnosed and treated before they resort to self-injury.”

What about child poverty?

Responding to today’s Autumn Statement, Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:

It’s striking that the only giveaway for children was for families who can afford to fly them abroad on holiday. For millions more children, today’s Autumn Statement is about staying the course for poverty rather than prosperity.

“The Chancellor once again failed to mention child poverty – it’s now two years since an Autumn Statement or a Budget mentioned child poverty, despite the Government’s binding legal obligation to reduce it and IFS projections warning that the Government is on course to rapidly increase, not reduce, child poverty.

“By cutting Universal Credit once again, the Chancellor is in very real danger of torpedoing Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship policy. Freezing the work allowance will harm work incentives and hit low paid families hard. Two thirds of poor children live in working families; we should be redistributing help towards them, not away from them.”

Britain needs a pay rise

Responding to the Autumn Statement, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The living standards crisis has wrecked the Chancellor’s strategy.

“He has failed his deficit reduction pledge as low-paid Britain is paying much less tax than expected. And businesses won’t find the customers they need if consumers do not have money in their pockets.

“Nothing in today’s Autumn Statement will give Britain a pay rise, and Conservative plans to effectively outlaw strikes will help make Britain permanently low-paid. Wrapping up last year’s infrastructure presents and giving them to us again will not give the economy the extra boost it now needs.

“Today should have seen policies for growth, but the Chancellor has boxed himself in with a rigid and artificial deficit reduction timetable. If he continues in office that will mean eye-watering spending cuts straight after the election. These would knock the recovery sideways, deter investment and lead to great damage to our social fabric.

“The way to heal the public finances is to build a strong growing economy in which successful companies and well-paid workers pay fair taxes. Pre-election giveaways today under this Chancellor will lead to even bigger spending cuts now that the global economy looks increasingly fragile.

“This is economic self-harm, threatening a vicious circle of further decline. That would be Groundhog Day all over again – the same mistake that the coalition made in its first two years.”

Source –  Welfare Weekly,  03 Dec 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/autumn-statement-greens-slam-osbornes-ideological-commitment-austerity/



Plans to scrap emergency fund will leave crisis hit families with nowhere to turn

Families in crisis will have nowhere to turn when a £10m emergency fund for the region is axed within months, campaigners warn today.

The Children’s Society raises the alarm over Government plans to scrap ‘local welfare assistance schemes’ – seen as a last lifeline to stop vulnerable people falling into debt and destitution.

The cash – administered by local authorities – is helping an estimated 80,000 people across the North-East and North Yorkshire in this financial year, the organisation said.

Some are women fleeing domestic violence, who desperately need money quickly to buy an oven for their new home.

Other grants are given to parents so they can visit their sick child in hospital, or to struggling families when they face an emergency cost such as a broken boiler.

But the funding will be withdrawn from next April, under proposals put forward by the department for work and pensions (DWP) expected to be confirmed in the New Year.

Ministers say local councils can fund the schemes themselves – but those councils must themselves find billions of pounds of savings, amid huge cuts to their Whitehall grants.

Matthew Reed, The Children’s Society chief executive, said:

“This is a cut too far.

“At a time of increasing child poverty, high levels of problem debts, and cuts to support for families, it is more important than ever that local welfare assistance schemes are available to help families in crisis.

“Without these schemes, families will have to choose between going without basic essentials to keep their family safe and healthy – such as food or heating – and turning to high cost credit or payday loans, plunging them into a debt trap.”

Durham County Council – which will lose £407,270, if the plans go ahead – said it had not yet drawn up proposals to plug the gap.

Roger Goodes, head of policy, said:

“We are looking at how we might be able to continue to support people, should funding be withdrawn.

“Once the funding situation is confirmed, we would expect to develop detailed proposals which would be put to members of the council’s Cabinet for consideration.”

> Why didn’t he just say “no idea” ?

 Almost three-quarters of councils are planning to hack back their schemes – or end them completely – according to a recent Local Government Association survey.

But a DWP spokeswoman insisted it was not planning to end support, but giving councils greater freedom how to spend funds from Whitehall.

She said:

“This Government is giving councils more control because they understand best their local area’s needs. This is in contrast to the old centralised grant system that was poorly targeted.”

The estimate that almost 80,000 people in the region are currently receiving help is based on the average grant of £124.

Source –  Northern Echo,  07 Nov 2014

Britain Faces Future Divided By Rich And Poor, Poverty Commission Warns

This article was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for The Guardian on Monday 20th October 2014

Britain is on the brink of becoming a nation permanently divided between rich and poor, according to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission in its second annual state of the nation report.

The 335-page document is likely to be a reference point against which the government’s anti-poverty record will be judged, and to feature strongly in opposition party manifestos for the 2015 general election.

The report says all three main Westminster political parties are lamentably failing to be frank with the electorate about the fact there is no chance of meeting the government’s statutory child poverty target by 2020.

It also predicts that 2010-2020 will be the first decade since records began that saw a rise in absolute poverty – defined as a household in which income is below 60% of median earnings. A rise from 2.6 million households in absolute poverty to 3.5 million is now expected.

The chair of the commission, the former Labour cabinet minister Alan Milburn, said: “Muddling through will not do when the mismatch between needs and anti-poverty government policies are widening.”

Asked whether the government had responded to his first report, he said:

“It is like water from the stone. Our plea is not just to the current parties of government … They are great at talking the talk, the issue is whether they can walk the walk. The policies lack the scale to move the dial.”

Milburn attacked the government for failing to agree a child poverty strategy due to a coalition row.

“You cannot have a situation where government ministers first discredit a target and then fail to agree a new target and then go back to a discredited old target,” he said. “That is beyond a Whitehall farce.”

The report warns that “2020 could mark a watershed between an era in which for decades there have been rising living standards shared by all and a future era where rising living standards bypass the poorest in society.”

It suggests that the link between effort and reward, on which social mobility relies, has been broken by changes in the housing market – with home ownership rates halving among young people in 20 years – and the labour market – with 5 million workers trapped in low pay.

When combined with cuts in welfare and public spending, these changes put Britain on track to become a permanently divided nation.

The report calls on the next government to supplement the existing targets with new measures to give a more rounded picture of poverty and to amend the legislation to set out a new timescale for achieving them.

The commission made six major recommendations:

• The UK should commit to implementing a living wage by 2025 at the latest.

• The Office of Budget Responsibility should publish an assessment of each Budget for its impact on social mobility and child poverty.

• Half of all workplaces with more than 10 staff should offer quality apprenticeships.

• New forms of housing tenure through expanded shared ownership schemes and reform of the private rented sector.

• The best teachers should be paid more to teach in the worst schools to help end illiteracy and innumeracy in primary schools by 2025 and halve the attainment gap in secondary school by 2025. It suggests teachers should get a 25% pay rise to work in the most challenging schools.

• Unpaid internships to be made illegal and 5,000 more pupils from a free school meals background to be going to university by 2020. It proposes that the extra 100,000 university places by 2020 give universities a unique chance to find the extra 5,000 places, with the Russell group admitting 3,000 more places for state schools, using textual admission processes.

Milburn said internships had become a new rung on the professional ladder and were being abused by the middle classes and people from private educational backgrounds.

The report highlights that child poverty, set against the 2010 Child Poverty Act, was at a historic low in 2012-13.

But it adds:

“The bad news is that real wages are still falling while jobs are becoming less secure. Housing costs are straining the link between effort and reward that should be at the heart of a fair and socially mobile country and different parts of society are having different experiences of the recovery with big variations by income age family type and region.”

It also finds

“a higher proportion of jobs are insecure and low paid and 5 million people earn less than the living wage”.

Milburn also challenged Labour’s promise to commit to a minimum wage of £8 an hour by 2020, saying the number was less ambitious than what has been achieved in the current parliament. Labour said its policy was to raise the minimum wage to 58% of average earnings – higher than the current average.

The report also warns that money will not be available in the next parliament to drive an anti-poverty fight. Milburn said:

“The impact of welfare cuts and entrenched low pay and welfare cuts will bite between now and 2020. The pace of fiscal consolidation has been slower than anticipated, meaning over 40% has been deferred to the next parliament.

“Each of the main parties are committed to eye-wateringly tight spending cuts. None of them have made much effort to reconcile the social ends they say they want with the fiscal means to which they are committed.

“In particular plans, to cut in-work support in real terms in the next parliament can only make the working poor worse off, not better off.”

The report adds:

”The current proposal for tax-free childcare is complicated, with resources focused on those with the highest incomes – the wrong priority at a time austerity.

“In education the attainment gap remains unacceptably wide and static – almost two-thirds of children fail to achieve the basics of five GCSEs including English and maths. Poor children are less likely to be taught by good teachers.”

Source –  Welfare Weekly,  24 Oct 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/britain-faces-future-divided-rich-poor-poverty-commission-warns/

Families in Middlesbrough living on the breadline, figures show

More than half of families living in Middlesbrough struggle to put food on the table, shocking new figures show.

In the town, 50.7% of children are living in poverty, according to figures from the Campaign to End Child Poverty, making it the most deprived area in the North East.

It compared to just 3.6% of children in the Stocksfield and Broomhaugh ward of Northumberland.

Figures are based on the proportion of children living households their families are in receipt of out of work benefits or in receipt of in-work tax credits and where their reported family income is less than 60% of median income after housing costs.

This week, young people from across the North East marched on Parliament to have their voices heard on child poverty.

A 38-strong-team – including 13 children from the North East – made the long trip to London to present their manifesto to a cross-party panel at Westminster.

Written by children aged 13 to 18, it targeted government-led policies against child poverty which they feel have “failed” to engage young people.

The children’s manifesto calls for every family in Britain to meet a minimum standard of living, not just surviving; for an equal school experience for all; for affordable, decent homes for everyone; for young people to have access to three affordable healthy meals a day; for all to feel and be safe; and for all young people to access affordable transport.

The children presented their manifesto to MPs Chris White (Conservative), David Ward (Liberal Democrat) and Teresa Pearce (Labour).

Liam Binns, 17, from Newcastle, spoke of how the issue affected young people in his community.

“It costs £4 for a meal at Newcastle College and a lot of kids can’t afford that,” he said. “It also costs kids £2.30 to travel into school or college on the bus everyday.

“How can we stop child poverty and under-achievement in our communities when we’re not operating on a level playing field?

“If it’s free education for all, why are we having to pay for food and travel?”

Source –   Middlesbrough Evening Chronicle, 18 Oct 2014

 

Child poverty in the North East will get worse, not better, charities warn

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