One in three children in the North living in poverty
Report by Kris Jepson
Families in Middlesbrough and Newcastle are among those most affected by the cost of living crisis, according to a report released today.
It found that during the pandemic, 34% of children in the North were living in poverty, compared with 28% in the rest of England.
The Child Poverty and Cost of Living Crisis report was carried out by Child of the North, an all-party parliamentary group (APPG).
APPGs are groups in Parliament which are made up of politicians from across the political spectrum.
Child of the North co-chair and South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck 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."
The report also found that fuel poverty and food insecurity is higher in the North than the rest of England.
Families in the North are more likely to be living in poor quality, damp homes, the report found.
Before living costs started to rise, more than 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’s authors have warned the government that rising living costs will lead to immediate and lifelong harms for children, including worsening physical and mental health, undermined education and lower productivity.
Kate Pickett, professor of epidemiology at the University of York, and co-author of the report, said: "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."
The series of recommendations to tackle the problem includes increasing benefits in line with inflation, expanding free school meals to all families in receipt of Universal Credit, and to boost support to families who have to use prepayment meters.
Conservative co-chair Mary Robinson, MP for Cheadle, added: "The findings of the report serve as a stark reminder of the devastating reality of child poverty in the north.
"It is heartbreaking to hear stories of those living this reality and the uncertainty of what the future holds."
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."
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...