Report finds North East to be the 'child poverty capital' of the U.K.

The government has been criticised over new figures which show the North East to be the child poverty capital of the UK. 

Nuffield Foundation research is part of the 'Changing patterns of poverty in early childhood' review examines patterns in poverty for UK under-fives over the last 20 years. 

Now, County Durham Labour leaders have hit out at Government inaction over the issue.

The 'Changing patterns of poverty in early childhood' review examines patterns in poverty for UK under-fives over the last 20 years, and draws on over 100 research studies and reputable sources.

The research found that - while child poverty rates have fluctuated since 2000 - there has been a sustained increase since 2013/14, with families in the North East suffering the steepest rise (46%), ahead of London (41%) and the rest of the UK.

Cllr Angela Surtees, Labour's Communities and Inclusion lead, said: "The Nuffield study shines a spotlight on the lie of this Government's "Levelling Up" agenda, and should shame those in Parliament who voted against free school meals during a pandemic and refused to embrace the "Right to Food" initiative.

"This is a national scandal - we're bombarded with images of grinning Cabinet members posing at food banks while full time key workers queue for handouts in the background. Billions of pounds wasted on a hopeless Track & Trace app and useless PPE while Tory ministers simply refuse to address in-work poverty by retaining the £20 Universal Credit uplift. A huge hike to National Insurance payments for the working young while older people on enormous pensions pay nothing...this must be addressed immediately."

The Nuffield Foundation study also explored the evidence of the impact of child poverty in the first few years of life, revealing that childhood poverty can significantly affect children's cognitive skills and physical, social and emotional development throughout childhood and into adulthood.

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Labour's Children and Young People lead, added: "Child poverty fell to its lowest levels between 1997/98 and 2004/05, reflecting increased spending on cash benefits and tax credits by the Labour Government - because we care about protecting our children.

"What is more important than ensuring our children and young people are looked after? That their parents and guardians can afford food, to heat their homes and put clothes on their backs? With its austerity purge, its National Insurance hike, its withdrawal of the Universal Credit uplift and its scandalous mishandling of the pandemic, this Government demonstrates at every turn that it simply does not care about low-income, young families."

A Government spokesperson said:“Children in households where every adult is working are around five times less likely to be in poverty than households where nobody works.

"That is why we have a comprehensive Plan for Jobs to help people into jobs and to progress in work, along with a childcare offer for working parents, nearly £1 billion of additional housing support through Local Housing Allowance rates, a £220m Holiday Activities and Food Programme and extra help with council tax bills.”