New figures published today by the Department for Work and Pensions indicate that 37% of all children and young people across the North East were living in poverty in the three years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic (2017/18 to 2019/20) . This is equivalent to more than 11 children in a classroom of 30 across the region, and up from an average of 34% in the three years before (2016/17 to 2018/19).
The annual Households Below Average Income (HBAI) data published today also show that some 4.3million children (31%) were living below the poverty line across the UK in 2019/20, the last financial year before coronavirus hit. This was up around 200,000 on the year before, and an increase of 700,000 since 2012.
Across the country, three quarters (75%) of children and young people growing up in poverty were from working families in 2019/20 – up from 72% the year before.
Director of the North East Child Poverty Commission, Amanda Bailey, said:
“These new figures not only demonstrate the scale of this issue in our region before Covid-19 hit, with similar levels of child poverty not seen in the North East since the late 1990s – but also quite how badly any attempts by Government to address this problem have failed in recent years.
“Tens of thousands of families across our region went into the pandemic economically vulnerable – and the last twelve months have clearly led to even greater hardship for those already in poverty’s grip, whilst pulling yet more children and young people into serious financial insecurity.
“Ministers cannot keep putting their heads in the sand on this issue any longer and must use the post-Covid recovery as a turning point by putting children and families at the heart of policy-making. Front and centre of this must be a clear Government commitment and comprehensive plan to end child poverty in this country. We need a social security system that adequately supports families – starting with a Child Benefit increase of at least £10 per child per week – backed up by resolute action to grow good, secure, well-paid employment and meaningful investment in the services children and families use.”