Child poverty figures spark call for action - The Evesham Observer

Child poverty figures spark call for action

Evesham Editorial 17th May, 2019   0

CAMPAIGNERS have urged the Government to tackle child poverty after new figures revealed nearly a third of children in two areas of Evesham and almost a quarter of all children growing up in Pershore were doing so below the breadline.

Research by End Child Poverty, the UK’s leading child poverty coalition, revealed an estimated 7,230 youngsters overall in Wychavon were growing up in poverty after housing costs such as rent and mortgage were paid out.

According to the figures, conducted by Professor Donald Hirsch and Dr Juliet Stone at the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, 316 or 19 per cent of youngsters in Bengeworth are growing in poverty. Once housing costs were paid, the figure surged to 528 children (32 per cent) in the area living below the breadline.

Meanwhile in Evesham South 322 children or 18.5 per cent were in households below the breadline, a figure which jumps to 567 or 33 per cent of youngsters once housing costs are paid out.

In Pershore 319 or 21 per cent of youngsters are growing in poverty. Once housing costs were paid, the figure surged to 532 children (35 per cent) in the town living below the breadline.

Overall Wychavon is the fourth highest area for child poverty in Worcestershire behind Wyre Forest on 34 per cent, Redditch on 33 per cent and neighbouring Worcester where 30 per cent of children are described as living in poverty.

Campaigners want to see the link restored between benefits, including housing support, and inflation, and the loss in children’s benefits as a result of the four-year freeze and previous sub-inflation increases in benefit rates to be made up.

An end to the two-child limit on child allowances in tax credits and universal credit-and reforming Universal Credit and a reversal of the cuts and investing in children’s services such as mental health, education, childcare and social care have also been called for by charity chiefs.

Anna Feuchtwang, chair of the End Child Poverty coalition, said: “We know what causes child poverty and we know how to end it. We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs.”

“Growing up in poverty means growing up trapped. It restricts a child’s chances of doing well at school, of living a healthy and happy life, and of finding well paid work as adults. We urgently need Government to set a course of action that will free our children from the grip of poverty,” she added.

In response, Evesham’s MP Nigel Huddleston said: “I’m always concerned if there is any child living in poverty in my constituency, however it is determined.

“We do have particular issues in the constituency, with housing affordability and lower than average national wages and we do have pockets of poverty which need to be addressed.”

“One of my frustrations as an MP representing a rural area is I stand up in the House of Commons raising concerns and the need for more money yet rural areas are perceived as idyllic with no issues.

“That is not the case, we will continue to speak up and ensure the pockets of poverty in our area can be tackled,” he added.

Pershore’s MP Harriett Baldwin said: “Work is the best route out of poverty and because of a strong job market and more free childcare there are 665,000 fewer children growing up in workless households.

“Low pay is also being tackled, with recent above inflation increases in the National Living Wage and increases in personal tax allowances meaning that people get to keep more of their pay.

“The percentage of children in absolute low income after housing costs remains at a record low, but of course one child in absolute low income is too many.

“We need to have a welfare system which helps families escape poverty through good work coaching and employment support.”


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