Child Poverty is a particular problem in our region. In the three years before the pandemic, the North East had the second highest rate of child poverty in the UK at 37% (the UK average was 31%). Moreover, all 12 of the North East’s councils are included in the top 20 local authorities in the UK which have seen the highest increases in child poverty.
I am becoming increasingly concerned with the rising levels of child poverty in East Newcastle specifically. Newcastle saw the steepest rise of any UK local authority area. Of the 20 Parliamentary constituencies across the UK with the highest increases in child poverty from 2014/15 to 2019/20, Newcastle East saw an 11 percentage point increase over the same time period, from 27.1% to 38.1% (compared with a UK-wide increase of 2 percentage points).
Labour have recently created a specific Shadow Cabinet post for addressing child poverty and have forced the Government into providing free school meals during the holidays. I have been working in Parliament to oppose the Tory’s cuts to Universal Credit and real terms reduction in the value of Child Benefit. I continue to meet with the North East Child Poverty Commission about what can be done.