Rich and poor divide is disgrace

In this day and age isn't it obscene that so many children are trapped in poverty?

Thursday, 13th December 2018, 3:35 pm
Ronnie Campbell, Blyth Valley Labour candidate for General Election 2017 at the count in Blyth Sports Centre

Earlier this year the End Child Poverty coalition revealed that 4,541 children – more than one in four – were facing hardship in my Blyth Valley constituency. The worst affected ward was Croft, where 391 children, over 40 per cent, were living in poverty.

Across Northumberland, almost 15,000 youngsters were in the same boat.

The figures relate to the number of children living in poverty after the cost of housing is taken into consideration.

And it is getting worse. A report by the charity Action for Children showed that a million children under the age of ten in England and Scotland are facing draconian levels of poverty.

The government, with its botched rollout of Universal Credit and tax breaks for the wealthy, has turned the clock back to the days of A Christmas Carol, Tiny Tim and Scrooge.

Action for Children drew on the government’s own figures for the number of low-income families with young children that are experiencing material deprivation.

The charity will be running unofficial food banks over the Christmas period for families who lack fresh food, suitable clothes and, in some cases, money to pay for heating.

It blames the “double blow” of government austerity and Universal Credit.

Chief executive Julie Bentley said: “While the government tells us austerity is at an end, every day at Action for Children we see first-hand the impossible choices that families living in practically Dickensian levels of poverty have to make.”

The charity is calling for the chancellor to end the freeze on children’s benefits so that rising prices do not push more families into poverty.

Quite right. Britain has one of the world’s biggest economies, but it seems the only people who benefit are the rich. The divide between rich and poor is now as wide as the Grand Canyon. That is truly a disgrace.