Shocking increase in child poverty over past nine years – Stephen Hepburn MP

Every child matters so it’s scandalous that one in three is judged to be living in poverty in the Tyneside area I represent.

Thursday, 23rd May 2019, 09:20 am
Child poverty is on the increase (image posed by an actress)

That’s every third child in the Jarrow constituency growing up in a home where parents and carers are unable to afford meals, shoes, clothes and trips out.

So many blighted childhoods, blocked opportunities, stifled hopes and crushed dreams are a damning indictment of the Tory fateful choice to impose self-defeating austerity.

Self-defeating because the Tory ideological cuts squeezed incomes, slashed economic growth, bludgeoned public services, hurt communities, ruined lives and condemned more kids to live in poverty.

Shocking figures from the respected End Child Poverty coalition of charities show an unacceptable half a million more children are trapped in poverty since the Tories and their Liberal Democrat allies started imposing austerity nine years ago.

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The grotesque double-digit 13% rise from 3.6 million to 4.1 million reverses falls in the Labour era when not every child matters to the callous Conservatives.

It’s disheartening to see the good work when Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown lifted a million kids out of poverty now ruined by the Tories.

Every day I see what that Tory austerity means in my advice surgery and mailbag with families forced to rely on charity Foodbanks to eat and scrambling to pay the rent is a nightmare.

It turns my stomach to see Tories claim that austerity’s coming to an end when the Universal Credit monster is emptying purses and wallets of people in and out of work.

Experts track heartless raid after raid reducing poorer families’ incomes and warn work isn’t a path out of poverty but a trap when somebody has a low paid, often insecure, job in most homes where children are poor.

Our determination to build a better future for everybody, leaving nobody behind, is why Labour recognises we must abolish the scourge of low pay by increasing the minimum wage to at least £10 per hour.

When a decent day’s graft deserves a decent day’s pay we’ll guarantee that a tenner an hour is paid to everybody, whatever age, so the young aren’t exploited and used to undercut older grafters.

The only way to secure and sustain decent pay levels is through strong trade union and employment rights so the scourge of zero-hour contracts would cease under Labour. And we’ll support the self-employed who too often feel neglected and abandoned under the Tories, people working for themselves deserving a safety net as well.

Labour would make Universal Credit work or introduce a system that does when the mess the Tories are creating is punishing people who deserve help.

The two-child policy would be scrapped, an abomination financially hurting innocent kids who are victims of a Tory political game.

Labour would also invest once again in the Sure Start programme and provide free school meals to all primary school children.

Things don’t have to be how they are. We can do better.