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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Data shows more than a third of children are living in poverty in the Northwest

Greater Manchester Poverty Action and End Child Poverty Coalition have launched their annual statistics for the UK surrounding child poverty – with children living in Oldham and Pendle significantly impacted.

Across the region the number of children living in poverty has seen a worrying increase, rising 5.4 percentage points since 2014/15. During this time, child poverty only rose by one percentage point across the UK.

Government data has shown that more than a third (34.3 per cent) of children and young people in the North West region are living in poverty, the equivalent of ten children in a classroom of 30. The new research, carried out by Loughborough University on behalf of the coalition, reveals that in Manchester this figure reaches a third (44.7%) of all children and young people – or a staggering 13 children in a classroom of 30.

Eight of the region’s local authorities also now feature in the list of the twenty council areas with the highest child poverty rates in the whole of the UK – with Manchester having the third highest child poverty rate in the country.

Commenting on the figures, Graham Whitham, End Child Poverty Coalition spokesperson and CEO of Greater Manchester Poverty Action said: “These new figures are shocking but not surprising. Child poverty rates have been rising in the North West for a number of years, and government failure to adequately support people means there is no safety net when something like the pandemic or cost-of-living crisis hit.

“Crisis responses and temporary sticking plasters are very clearly not working, and the UK government has no plan or strategy to address poverty. We need to see real policy change that protects and supports our poorest households, such as ending the two-child limit on benefits.

“While many of the main drivers to tackle poverty lie with central government, there are ways we can reduce poverty locally. We urge employers across the North West to pay the Real Living Wage, which reflects the real cost of living in a way that the statutory minimum set by government doesn’t. We also encourage local authorities to develop anti-poverty strategies which implement robust responses to poverty, and to use the Household Support Fund to give families money rather than in-kind support such as food parcels and energy vouchers.”

Nationally, the cost-of-living crisis has driven up the number of children experiencing poverty to 4.2 million last year (29 percent of all dependent children aged 0-19), with an increasing number living in working households.

Some 71 percent of them live in households where at least one adult works.

Liv Eren, age 19, from Halton, in Cheshire, grew up in a family on a low income and is an End Child Poverty Coalition ambassador. She said: “I am one of many young people who despite living in a working household, has still grown up in poverty. I am still haunted by the experience of growing up ‘without’ for lots of things that others would describe as necessities: proper school uniform, a decent packed lunch or even the having heating on in the house. It is harrowing knowing that there are so many who are deeply struggling. 

“We are not just statistics, we are individual people who deserve and need support.”

Images provided by Save The Children

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