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'Child poverty is the most pernicious thing of all': Bishop raises concern over rise in North East of England

by Press Association

The North East of England has seen the biggest rise in child poverty since 2013 - around three times the UK average, according to a think tank.

Child poverty rose by nine percentage points in the North East between 2013 and 2019, compared to three percentage points across the UK, an IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) North report has found.

It comes after a fall in child poverty of 13 percentage points between 1999 and 2013 in the North East, according to the IPPR research.

Families in the North East are "especially vulnerable" to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic because of the region's history of high poverty rates and the long-term effects of regional inequalities, the report warns.

It adds: "A higher proportion of children live in households which go without things like heating, an annual week's holiday, hobbies and leisure activities or school trips.

"Poverty is reflected in outcomes for children's health and secondary school attainment in the region.

"These were urgent issues before Covid-19; now they are critical."

The think tank - alongside the Bishop of Newcastle and the North East Child Poverty Commission - is calling on local and national leaders to prioritise ending child poverty in the North East.

Anna Round, report author and senior research fellow at IPPR North, said: "No child should ever have to grow up living in poverty, because it is a problem that can be solved.

"Yet here in the North East, despite progress during the 2000s, we've seen the biggest increase in child poverty of all of the regions and nations of the UK in recent years.

"Growing up in poverty has significant, grave consequences for the health and wellbeing of communities. So if we reduce it, we will lay the foundations for long term resilience and recovery, and see improvements in the life course across the region".

The Bishop of Newcastle, Christine Hardman, said: "Child poverty is the most pernicious thing of all, as all too often its effects last a lifetime. This report is an urgent call to action.

"If we wish to avoid being condemned by our actions or inaction in this our time, as a society we have to commit to putting the interests and needs of our children and young people first."

Sarah Longlands, director of IPPR North, said: "If this Government is to give its 'levelling up' soundbite any meaning, then it must make ending child poverty in places like the North East its priority.

"Government should begin by setting out in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review how they will double down on levelling up life chances for children across the North. This needs to include putting ending child poverty at the heart of future devolution deals."

A Government spokesperson said: "The latest figures showed that there are 100,000 fewer children living in absolute poverty than in 2009/10, but we know there are regional inequalities which is why we remain determined to deliver our levelling up agenda, and open up opportunity to all.

"This Government is wholly committed to supporting the lowest-paid families and has already taken significant steps including raising the living wage, ending the benefit freeze and increasing work incentives."

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