New research is claiming that child poverty in Yorkshire and the Humber region is at its highest level in more than 20 years.
The parliamentary report published on Tuesday January 24 warns of widening inequalities. It found that children in the North are amongst the least protected from the cost of living crisis - with many areas in the Calendar region among the hardest hit.
The Child Poverty and the Cost of Living Crisis report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group Child of the North shows that child poverty, including fuel poverty and food insecurity, is higher in the North than the rest of England.
The report found that during the pandemic an extra 160,000 children have been living in poverty in the region. It also found that during the pandemic, 34% of children in the North (around 900,000) were living in poverty, compared with 28% in the rest of England.
Before the current crisis, 15% of households in the North (around one million) were fuel poor, compared with 12% in the rest of England
In 13 parliamentary constituencies in the North, over 20% of households were already fuel poor - all but two in the Calendar region and being Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, Sheffield Central, Hull North, Leeds Central, Bradford West, Leeds East, Bradford East, Rotherham, Doncaster North, Barnsley East, Huddersfield as well as Manchester Gorton and Liverpool
Families in the North are more likely to be living in poor quality, damp homes. Before living costs started to rise, over 98,500 homes in the North already had some form of damp and 1.1 million homes in the North failed 'decent homes' criteria.
The report authors have issued a stark warning to government that rising living costs will lead to immediate and lifelong harms for children: worsening physical and mental health outcomes; undermining children's learning, social wellbeing and education; and risking lower lifelong health and productivity.
Emma Lewell-Buck, MP and Co-Chair APPG Child of the North, said: "Whilst poverty is, sadly, not a new experience for many children in the North, the scale and severity of deprivation is now unprecedented. As the cost of living crisis worsens, vulnerable children and families, especially in the North, are being pushed to the edge.
"This report outlines the injustice of deprivation in our country and presents policy measures that, if implemented, could ensure that children in our region are never left hungry, cold or without."
Kate Pickett, Professor of Epidemiology, University of York, and co-author of the new report, said: "Many areas across the North of England have seen rising child poverty in recent years. As economic stress is pushing up the price of food, energy and fuel, more and more families are having to make difficult decisions on how to spend their money.
"We risk seeing more children falling deeper into poverty if measures aren't implemented by government to adequately help those living in areas that are the most vulnerable to rising living costs."
A Government spokesperson said: “Latest figures show that there are 200,000 fewer children in absolute poverty after housing costs compared to 2019/20. But we know that rising prices mean that families are struggling which is why– as well as raising benefits in line with inflation from April – we will be sending up to £1,350 directly to millions of families throughout 2023-24, building on the £1,200 given to those most in need this financial year.
“Vulnerable families in England are also being supported by the Government’s Household Support Fund – which was boosted by £500million - to help pay for essentials, and we are investing £24m in our National School Breakfast Programme for children in disadvantaged areas.”
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