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
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
Youngsters from Tynedale wishing to stay on at school, or go to college, will have to pay £600 per year just to get there from September.
As expected, Northumberland County Council is scrapping free transport for sixth formers and college students, in order to save £2.4m per year.
That means youngsters starting in sixth form will have to pay £600 to travel on the same school bus they have used for free since the age of 9.
But the move has evoked Tory fury, as the opposition at County Hall has accused the ruling Labour group of imposing a tax on teenagers, which could put them off gaining qualifications.
“I cannot believe that Labour are so willing to threaten the life chances of our young people with this teenage tax of theirs,” said Coun. Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland Conservatives.
“This excessive tax on our students and their families will put many off furthering their education at all.”
Coun. Jackson said the intention appeared to be that the only college courses available to Northumberland students were those offered by Northumberland College at Ashington.
Coun. Jackson said: “This is an insult to the young people of this county.
“As we all know, Ashington is a most difficult place to access by public transport, if not impossible from some parts of Northumberland.
“The future prosperity of our county lies in the successful careers of our young people. Yet here we have a Labour-led council making the wrong choice.
“They are happy to protect the interests of a few at the top at the expense of those who live elsewhere.
“They plan to spend millions on a new county hall and a new leisure centre in Ashington, yet are not prepared to give all our young people an equal chance.”
Hexham’s Coun. Cath Homer said the “teenage tax” was a direct attack on local people and their children who are working hard to make ends meet.
She said: “We need to have young people able to access the best course in the best college to help them get the best chance in life.
“The Labour council has now imposed a take it or leave it plan which means only the richest will be able to have choice.
“This sends the wrong message to young people and could put the long term economic prosperity of the county at risk.
“I am very concerned that in years to come our young people will decide if Northumberland doesn’t value them, they will leave.”
The Tories were critical of the fact that the two Independent members of the council from Tynedale – Ovington’s Coun. Paul Kelly and Stocksfield’s Coun. Mrs Anne Dale – failed to back the Tory opposition to the proposal.
They pointed out that the £600 charge for school transport was the highest in the North-East.
County council leader Coun. Grant Davey said: “We do not make any cuts with relish. It is regrettable that we have to make any cuts, but we must balance our budget.
“Where we make cuts we will protect those in greatest need and continue to focus our resources on helping our county to grow. We will always do right by our communities.”
The new scheme will come into effect from September 1, but sixth formers already in the scheme will not be affected.
Special provision will be made to exempt the most vulnerable groups, such as students with special educational needs, or those from low income backgrounds, who attend their nearest appropriate school or college.
The average annual cost to the council of transport per student is currently in the region of £936 a year.
Northumberland is unusual among local authorities in that it still provides free transport for 16-19 year old students.
Durham County Council has already withdrawn its post-16 travel scheme and Cumbria County Council is also withdrawing the subsidy.
The number of Northumberland students claiming free transport has increased from 800 to 3,500 over the past five years, and 40 per cent of students travel to educational establishments outside the county.
Whilst the numbers of students claiming free travel has increased dramatically, the numbers of students from Northumberland attending post-16 education have remained static at around 7,000.
The council is now hoping that the withdrawal of free transport could lead to school sixth forms and colleges in Northumberland extending the range of courses they can offer.
Source – Hexham Courant, 09 June 2014