South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck plans to tackle child poverty as it rises to 42% in the area
The South Shields MP highlighted the North East already suffers with the worst levels of child poverty in the country.
Lewell-Buck’s upcoming Private Members’ Bill will attempt to address some of the matters surrounding the issue by changing the Healthy Start Scheme to an automatic enrolment plan.
The scheme supplies baby formula and healthy food to vulnerable families with young children. The current opt-in system means around 200,000 eligible people are missing out.
Emma Lewell-Buck said: “The impacts of child poverty and child hunger are well documented. Numerous studies have shown the links between nutrition and cognitive development. Hungry children suffer developmental impairment, language delays and delayed motor skills.
The anxiety and worry faced by children living in families struggling to make ends meet can make it difficult to concentrate in school, to feel included, and to afford the resources needed to learn well and join in with friends, which undermines educational outcomes and social wellbeing.”
The MP also suggested the scheme needs to be uprated in line with inflation, as the current value of £8.50 per week doesn’t cover the cost of most packs of baby formula.
“The last Labour government lifted millions of children out of poverty. Child poverty is not inevitable, there can be progress in tackling it, but progress can also rapidly be undone. What we’ve seen over the last 13 years of Tory rule is a consistent fall in living standards which is now culminating in a generational crisis for the children in our region. This is a political choice. Whilst poverty is, sadly, not a new experience for many children in the north, the scale and severity of deprivation is now unprecedented,” she concluded.
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