Northumberland’s new Labour Group leader says the rising child poverty figures in the county and the nation as a whole are a sign that the current government is letting our children down.
Scott Dickinson said: “It’s appalling that, in 2021, a third of all children living in our country are living in poverty; that’s 4.3 million children or, to put it another way, nine children in every class of 30.
“There are around 53,900* children living in Northumberland and the latest figures show 17,369 of them are growing up in poverty; that’s almost a third of all the children in our county.
“Those figures break down to 5,079 in Wansbeck, 2,986 in Hexham, 3730 in Berwick and 5,584 in the Blyth Valley.
“It’s simply not acceptable that, in a rich country in the 21st century, we are returning to levels of poverty probably not seen for generations.
“We know that years of harsh government cuts in Northumberland meant services were cut for those who needed them most, jobs were lost and much needed housing was not built. Children who were already disadvantaged suffered more in the pandemic because of the lack of broadband and IT equipment in the home to help them continue learning.
“The Labour Group convinced the county council that a poverty working group should be set up and they were instrumental in forcing a U-turn on holiday hunger and free school meals over the holidays during the pandemic.
“We know the things we did were short term but they were urgent. Without our intervention many children would have gone hungry. It’s a truly shameful situation and the government and councils locally cannot keep doing the same things; radical change is needed.
“We are urging people to find out the rates in their area, which they can do by clicking on https://nochildleftbehind.org.uk and typing in their postcode. We’d also urge people to write to their MP and ask what they are doing to address this.
“Our children are being failed by the Conservatives. Many people voted Conservative this time because they thought the Conservatives had their interests at heart. If the Conservatives really want to support the people who voted for them, then they need to address this as a matter of urgency.
“The child poverty situation in this country is an individual tragedy for many children and an international embarrassment for our country. ”
*children under 15 at the 2011 census
Find out more about the No Child Left Behind campaign at https://nochildleftbehind.org.uk