A SHARP rise in the number of children living in poverty has been highlighted in a new report co-authored by a York professor.
The Child Poverty And The Cost Of Living Crisis report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) showed that problems including fuel poverty and food insecurity are higher in the north than the rest of England.
The report, co-authored by Kate Pickett, professor of epidemiology at the University of York, found that:
During the pandemic, 34 per cent of children in the north (around 900,000) were living in poverty, compared with 28 per cent in the rest of England.
Before the current crisis, around one million households in the north were fuel poor, proportionally more households than in the rest of England – 15 per cent in the north compared to 12 per cent elsewhere.
Families in the north are more likely to be living in poor quality, damp homes. Before living costs started to rise, more than 98,500 homes in the north already had some form of damp and 1.1 million homes in the north failed ‘decent homes’ criteria
Prof Pickett said: “We risk seeing more children falling deeper into poverty if measures aren’t implemented by government to adequately help those living in areas that are the most vulnerable to rising living costs.”
She warned that rising living costs would lead to immediate and lifelong harms for children, including worsening physical and mental health, undermined education and lower productivity.
The report made a series of recommendations to tackle the problem, including increasing benefits in line with inflation, expanding free school meals to all families in receipt of Universal Credit and boosting support to families who had to use prepayment meters.
York Central Labour MP Rachael Maskell, who is a vice chair of this APPG, claimed there was no Government strategy to tackle child poverty and inequality.
"Instead, we see the living experiences of the wealthy and the poor widening, with Government throwing money at vanity projects rather than investing in the future of young people," she claimed.
She said Labour had committed to 5,000 more Health Visitors to support parents and a new plan for a comprehensive childcare provision for those important early years. "As children enter school, they will start each day with a breakfast and many more will receive a free lunch, while opportunities for children improve."
Conservative co-chairwoman of the APPG, Mary Robinson, MP for Cheadle, said: “The findings of the report serve as a stark reminder of the devastating reality of child poverty in the north.
“It is heartbreaking to hear stories of those living this reality and the uncertainty of what the future holds.”