Poverty is on the increase across the country, and nowhere more so than in the North East, according to shock figures released by the Child Poverty Action Group.
And Alex Cunningham, Labour Member of Parliament for Stockton North, has spoken out demanding that the poorest people in our society, many of them working for poverty level wages, get a fair share of the rewards as the economy improves, albeit very slowly.
Child Poverty Action Group, along with partners in the End Child Poverty Coalition, has updated previous research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to show that the cost of child poverty to the UK currently totals £29 billion a year, with a £20.9 billion annual cost to the public purse. The research also estimates that, if child poverty rises in line with estimates from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the annual cost will reach £35 billion by 2020.
In Alex’s Stockton North constituency alone, where 6,706 children are deemed to live below the relative poverty line, the annual cost stands at £73 million.
It is estimated that half of this cost is the result of adults having lower productivity and higher risk of unemployment from the disadvantages associated with growing up in poverty. The other half is attributable to the additional public spending required to deal with social problems resulting from high levels of child poverty.
“I was shocked to learn of the sheer extent of child poverty in our country. It is absolutely appalling that over a quarter of children across the country are living below the poverty line. That’s more than 3.5 million children nationally, and nearly 11,000 in the Stockton Borough alone.
“Living below the poverty line is not only damaging to a child’s immediate wellbeing, but also harms their future life chances. The policies of the Tory-led Coalition, or lack thereof, are only serving to make the problem worse and have created a cost of living crisis that has seen prices increase faster than wages in 39 of the 40 months that David Cameron has been Prime Minister.
“With ordinary families being more reliant on expensive basic necessities, such as electricity and gas, they are inevitably more sensitive to price rises. However, these ordinary families fare worse than average when it comes to wage increases. Official figures show that working people are, on average, £1,500 a year worse off than they were at the election. That is why the Labour Party is committed to restoring the link between growth and living standards, ensuring that living standards for ordinary families are rising. It is only by doing so that we can tackle the scourge of child poverty once and for all.”