Widening inequality between children in North and rest of England, report finds

  • Video report by ITV Calendar's Lisa Adlam

A new report has highlighted a 'stark inequality' between children growing up in the North of England and the rest of the country.

The Child of The North, which was written by 40 academics, looks at a wide range of factors - from child poverty to children in care - and sets out 18 recommendations to tackle the widening gap post-pandemic.

It says the inequality is costing billions of pounds to the economy and increasing poverty.

The government says it is supporting the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children to catch up from lost learning "wherever they live" with tutoring, training for teachers and extra funding for schools.

The report found children in the North have a 27% chance of living in poverty compared to 20% in the rest of England. Credit: PA

Some of the report's key findings are:

  • Children in the North of England's loss of learning, experienced over the course of the pandemic, will cost an estimated £24.6 billion in lost wages over lifetime earnings.

  • Children in the North are more likely to be obese than a child elsewhere in England. At Year 6 (age 11) the figure is 22.6% in the North compared to 20.5% in the rest of England.

  • Children in the North have a 27% chance of living in poverty compared to 20% in the rest of England.

  • They have a 58% chance of living in a local authority with above average levels of low-income families, compared to 19% in the rest of England.

  • Compared to children in England as a whole, they are more likely to die under the age of one.

The recommendations of the report include more investment in welfare, health and social care systems, particularly in deprived areas.

It also suggests immediate action to tackle child poverty, such as increasing child benefits by £10 per child per week.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Our ambitious recovery plan continues to roll out across the country, with £5 billion invested in high quality tutoring, world class training for teachers and early years practitioners, additional funding for schools, and extending time in colleges by 40 hours a year.

"We’re supporting the most disadvantaged, vulnerable or those with the least time left in education – wherever they live – to make up for learning lost during the pandemic.”

It is not just children feeling the impact of a north south divide. Today, a separate report has come out examining how older industrial areas, including former mining communities have been affected by the pandemic.

It states that while we are hearing about worker shortages in some parts of the country, in these towns there continue to be only job shortages.