Northumberland MP warns of alarming rise in child poverty levels

Child poverty levels have rocketed in Wansbeck, a local MP has warned.

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 6:00 pm
Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck.

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery has highlighted the alarming rise in child poverty over the past few years which shows no signs of slowing down.

And on Thursday he published a Child Poverty Report which show that poverty levels in the North East have increased from 26 per cent in 2014/15 to 37 per cent in 2019/20 – the sharpest rise of any region in the UK and resulting in the North East having the second highest levels of poverty just behind London.

Mr Lavery says the findings are even more concerning as the statistics were compiled before the pandemic hit.

Although the full effects of the pandemic are yet to be seen, he believes more families will have been plunged into poverty.

The government’s decision not to make the £20 increase in universal credit permanent, which has been a lifeline for thousands in Wansbeck alone, will push even more families into poverty.

Mr Lavery said: “A toxic mixture of low wages, lack of opportunity, and a hollowing out of our public institutions and infrastructure on the back of a brutal decade of austerity has left our communities on their knees.

“This all results in a perpetuating cycle of poverty that families find themselves unable to escape from.

"Most people simply want a secure fulfilling job, a home they can call their own and the opportunity to raise a family, yet this modest goal is becoming unattainable for too many young people growing up in our region.

“The Tories ‘levelling up’ agenda lacks and detail or ambition.

"Things need to change at a more fundamental level that hands power and funding back into the hands of our communities to take back control of their own destiny.

“People continue to feel alienated from mainstream politics and a system that seems to fight against their interests at every turn.

"Communities have been hollowed out and their identities stripped away leaving individuals and places without meaning or identity as well as devoid of well-paid and fulfilling work.

“Not only do we have a moral duty to act, but things also need to change before the levels of child poverty reach completely unsustainable levels and the worst economic, social, and political consequences become a reality.”

Elizabeth Simpson, Deputy Leader of the Northumberland Labour Party, added: “The findings of this important and timely report are extremely concerning.

“The government have been sitting on their hands for decades while child poverty levels have been rocketing in our communities.

“Following the pandemic child poverty levels are reaching a critical point, yet as it stands things are only set to get even worse.

“As the economy begins to recover from the past year and a half we need to see the government listening to those people working in the communities with these children about just how bad things are, and what must be done so we can start to see improvements.

"This must begin immediately with the decision to maintain the £20 uplift in universal credit that thousands of families in the North East are literally relying on to simply put food on the table.”