South Tyneside MPs demand urgent action as new figures lay bare child poverty crisis
South Tyneside MPs have urged the Government to recognise the scale of the social crisis facing the area and others like it, pointing to new poverty figures.
Data released by the End Child Poverty coalition have revealed the growing scale of child poverty across the country, even before the pandemic hit.
Research carried out by Loughborough University for the End Child Poverty Coalition shows that in the latest year (2019/20) there were 5,468 children – 36% of all children in the area - trapped in poverty across the Jarrow constituency
The statistics come as borough council chiefs hear that thousands of people in South Tyneside are understood to be living in relative poverty – with the real figure thought to be significantly higher, and growing as the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic begins to bite.
In light of the research, South Tyneside MPs, Kate Osborne and Emma Lewell-Buck, have added their voices to growing calls on Boris Johnson’s government to recognise the scale of the problem.
“If the Government is to make its plans for ‘levelling up’ the country a reality, it needs to take urgent action and come up with a credible plan to end child poverty,” said Ms Osborne, the MP for Jarrow.
"If we are to live in a society where every child has the chance to succeed we need to invest in this and future generations.
“This plan to end child poverty should include a commitment to increase child benefits. Families in South Tyneside and Gateshead are already struggling.”
Ms Osborne said the planned end to the extra £20-per-week in Universal Credit this autumn should be revoked, “or a bad situation will become even worse”.
She added: “I will be taking this message to Parliament and calling on the Government to make sure that all children in my constituency are supported to be the best they can be.”
The South Shields MP cited rising child poverty levels in the town over recent years in her appeal to address the social crisis, while pointing to the lack of poverty mitigation measures in the Conservatives’ ‘levelling up’ plans.
“The new End Child Poverty statistics show that child poverty in South Shields has risen by over 10% in just 5 years,” Mrs Lewell-Buck said.
"Now nearly 40% of children in Shields live in poverty.”
She added: "That the Government’s Levelling-Up strategy doesn’t include any measures to mitigate child poverty proves once again they are not serious about tackling the harm they have caused over their 11 years in power.”
Judith Cavanagh, Coordinator at the End Child Poverty Coalition, said: “We can all agree what a good, healthy, happy childhood looks like.
"But without a comprehensive plan to end child poverty we will continue to see rising numbers of children cut adrift - experiencing shame, social isolation and missing opportunities to participate fully in life in and outside of school.
"We are urging the Government, as part of a plan to end child poverty, to prioritise increasing children’s benefits and to not take money away from families in the autumn, with their planned £20 cut to Universal Credit.“