Rishi in Redcar: Prime Minister addresses child poverty on Teesside during campaign bus launch

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to tackle poverty on Teesside following a shocking report which revealed 35% of North-east children are going without.

The Conservatives leader launched his campaign bus at Redcar Racecourse during his tour of the North-east on Saturday where he sought to draw dividing lines with Labour. Speaking in front of the bus emblazoned with the slogan "clear plan, bold action, secure future," he praised Redcar MP Jacob Young and spoke of economy growth and a decrease in inflation.

Speaking to Teesside Live about the region's staggering child poverty, the Prime Minister vowed to get getting parents back into work to tackle the issue.

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It comes after a North East Child Poverty Commission (NECPC) report published in February highlighted more than one third of all babies, children and young people in the North-east are living in poverty. According to the NECPC, the region has experienced the steepest increases in child poverty over much of the last decade.

Responding to the data, the Tory leader said investment in the region including Freeport will provide well paid jobs to Teesside families and admitted more work is to be done.

Jacob Young MP for Redcar & Cleveland and Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
Jacob Young MP for Redcar & Cleveland and Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak -Credit:Getty Images

He said: "I'm a dad and it's hard to imagine something worse than children growing up in poverty nobody wants to see that. I'm proud that since the Conservatives have been in office the number of children living in poverty has gone down quite significantly.

"Of course there's more to do and the best way to ensure that children don't grow up in poverty is to make sure their mums and dads have great jobs. It's what the evidence shows. Things like the Freeport that has been delivered in the region are so important because they provide more high quality well paid jobs. The plan we announced the other day to create 100,000 new high quality apprenticeships for young people will also be really positive.

"Strong management of the economy to provide lots of jobs for mum's and dad's is the best way long term to ensure fewer children grow up in poverty. In the meantime as people saw with me during the pandemic and the spike in energy bills the Conservative Government has stepped in to help people."

Teesside Live previously reported on the Tees Valley data as the two areas with the highest and lowest child poverty rates are Newport in Middlesbrough, and Mowden in Darlington - this gap stands at 62 percentage points. At the time, report author and director of the NECPC, Amanda Bailey, said: "We know that the most important levers to tackle child poverty still rest with national Government – and nowhere is a national child poverty strategy more needed than here in the North-east."

As well as speaking on poverty and investment, the Prime Minister said the country has triumphed during tough times under Conservative leadership and urged voters to again back the party. He said: "The last few years have been tough, we've had Covid and the war in Ukraine but hopefully you also know that during that tough time I've had your back, whether if it was with the furlough scheme, or support with your energy bills, together as I country we've got through those tough times.

"Look at what is happening, inflation is down from 11% to 2%, the economy is growing faster than France, Germany and America, energy bills are falling, wages are rising and that shows that our plan is working. The question for the country is who do you trust to turn that foundation into a secure future for you, your family and our nation?"

The Prime Minster told reporters he is confident the Tory party will retain power in the general election on July 4.