Shocking new figures have revealed that more than a quarter of the children in Wansbeck are living in poverty.
In fact, the report by the End Child Poverty Coalition has alarmingly revealed the total to be 4,768, or 27.93 per cent of Wansbeck children, who live in poverty when housing costs are factored into their family incomes.
We know that around the country many teachers are reporting that pupils are turning up hungry for the start of their school day, and that more and more people are having to turn to food banks to put a meal on their tables.
Last year more than a million food parcels were handed out at food banks around the country, and locally the Wansbeck Valley Food Bank recently reported that it had just supplied its 4,000th emergency bag to feed someone in need of a minimum of three days’ food.
Food banks rely heavily on the generosity of donors for their supplies and Wansbeck is no exception. With winter, and Christmas, fast approaching it will need extra donations and whatever anyone can provide will be gratefully received.
We can point to all sorts of causes for families being in dire financial straits – rises in the cost of living, unemployment, part time or zero-hours working, the government’s freeze on child benefit payments, cuts to in-work benefits and tax credits, which dwarf the increase in the minimum wage.
Sadly, they all add up to a bleak picture for people on low incomes, many of whom work long hours in more than one job to make ends meet to stop them and their children falling into the poverty trap.
When she made her first speech after becoming Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to create a country that works for everyone, not just the rich and famous.
I, for one, sincerely hope she lives up to that pledge and does more to help those in need in our area.
Because that figure of 4,768 Wansbeck children living in poverty is 4,768 too many.