The gap between levels of child poverty in the North East and the UK national average has hit a 20-year high, according to a new report.
Research from the North East Child Poverty Commission has found that almost two in five children in the region are living in poverty.
The commission says the North East has seen a much steeper increase in in-work child poverty than that seen in other parts of the country and that this predates both the coronavirus pandemic and the current cost of living crisis.
It warns that there is a 'growing chasm' between the commitments made under the Government's 'Levelling Up' agenda and the reality of rising child poverty in the region, and that families both in and out of work have been disproportionately impacted by changes to the welfare state over the last ten years.
The commission has called on the government to support low-income families in the region by:
Raising social security payments to match inflation immediately, rather than in April as is currently proposed.
Pausing "deductions" in Universal Credit.
Lifting the two-child limit and benefit cap.
Pausing sanctions on Universal Credit.
Anna Turley, chair of the North East Child Poverty Commission, said: "Without both immediate and longer-term action to raise family incomes, particularly for those with the youngest children, there is no prospect of inequalities in the North East being reduced – and our region will continue to be held back from fulfilling its enormous potential.
"The single most important step the Government could take to improve the living standards and opportunities of children across our region, both now and in the future, is to commit to a clear plan – backed up with decisive action – to tackle this issue.
"Child poverty in the North East can be solved, with the right policies, support and investment in place."
The government is expected to announce a "mini budget" on Friday to help UK households to deal with the rising cost of living.
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