Cost of living crisis: Thousands of children in Northumberland are still living in poverty

One in six children in Northumberland were living in poverty last year, new figures show.
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Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show 8,800 Northumberland children aged under 16 were living in relative poverty in the year to March 2023.

It meant 17% of children in the area were in a family whose income was below 60% of average household income before housing costs. They also claimed child benefit and at least one other household benefit.

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This was down from 21.3% the year before and lower than the UK rate of 20.1%.

Thousands of children in Northumberland live in poverty. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Radar)Thousands of children in Northumberland live in poverty. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Radar)
Thousands of children in Northumberland live in poverty. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Radar)

Of all the children facing poverty in Northumberland, 2,685 were below school age.

Lynn Perry MBE, CEO of Barnardo’s, said: “Living in poverty means children miss out on opportunities and the activities that make childhood fun and support their development.

“The government needs to urgently focus on reducing child poverty.

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“That should start with a strategy for ending child poverty, including ending the two-child limit ‘sibling penalty’ on benefit payments and ensuring struggling families can afford essentials like food and household bills.”

Ian Lavery, the Labour MP for Wansbeck, claimed the figures downplayed the scale of the problem. He said: “This is an attempt by the government to cover up their failure by using flawed statistics which simply do not reflect the situation facing thousands of families here in Northumberland.

"Whilst by this measure poverty rates are similar to those faced by families prior to Covid, they fail to properly factor in the cost of living crisis and its impact.

"At the same time as politicians celebrate this as a sign of improvement other measures of hardship show a significant worsening and it is something borne our in the casework my office and I are seeing.”

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Ian Levy, the Conservative MP for Blyth Valley, said: "One of the main reasons I got involved in politics was to do whatever I can to address fundamental issues like poverty and ensure hard working families in Blyth Valley have more opportunity.

"I have focused on doing all I can to attract more and better jobs to the area in our excellent renewable energy sector and improve education standards by investing in Northumberland schools. I also work hard to support community groups working with families on the ground.

"Any child in poverty is one too many but it is good to see the situation here improving and being better than both national and regional averages."

Across the UK, there were 2.5m children living in low-income families before housing costs. However, the number hit a record high and was nearly double after housing costs were considered, with 4.3m children in relative poverty.

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Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Mel Stride said: “I know the last few years have been tough, with the aftershocks of Covid and the war in Ukraine driving up inflation and cost of living pressures.

“That is exactly why we stepped in with the biggest cost of living package in Europe, worth an average of £3,800 per household, and this unprecedented support prevented 1.3m people from falling into poverty in 2022-23.

“We are also going further in April, by uprating benefits and pensions to support millions of people on the lowest incomes and extending the Household Support Fund to provide vital support for those most in need.”