Child poverty has soared dramatically in large parts of Britain—before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
New analysis commissioned by the End Child Poverty campaign looked at rates of child poverty after housing costs are accounted for. It has risen almost everywhere, but the biggest increases have taken place in the Midlands and cities in Northern England.
Child poverty rates rose by more than 10 percent in Middlesbrough and parts of Tyneside between 2014-15 and 2018-19.
Sam Royston from The Children’s Society charity said the findings are “shocking” and show that “thousands more children” have been plunged into poverty.
In Middlesbrough, 31.2 percent of children were in poverty in 2014-15. By 2018-19 this had risen to 47.2 percent.
The rate for Newcastle upon Tyne Central rose from 31.7 percent to 45.2 percent, and for Birmingham Hodge Hill from 40.5 percent to 53.8 percent.
Child poverty in Bradford West rose from 34.9 percent to 47.8 percent. There were steep rises in several other Birmingham constituencies as well as many in the north east, Yorkshire and Lancashire.
In Scotland child poverty ranged from one in seven children in the Shetland Islands to nearly one in three in Glasgow,
The research, published on Wednesday, was carried out by Loughborough University. It said that rising housing costs are behind the rise in poverty.
“These data show alarmingly high rates of child poverty even before large numbers of people started losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic,” the report said.
The research also shows up the Tory lie that work is the route out of poverty.
Anna Feuchtwang from End Child Poverty said the “overwhelming majority” of households where children are in poverty “were working households before the pandemic”.
“The children affected are on a cliff edge, and the pandemic will only sweep them further into danger,” she said.
Feuchtwang said Boris Johnson should stop “resorting to his own inaccurate statistics” and admit the true scale of child poverty in Britain.
The charity complained to the UK Statistics Authority earlier this year after Johnson made several misleading and inaccurate statements claiming that child poverty has fallen. The authority agreed that his statements were wrong.
The charity called on the government to scrap planned cuts to Universal Credit (UC) that would leave families £1,000 a year worse off. It said the government should end the benefit cap and the two-child limit on benefits, raise child benefit and increase housing benefit in line with inflation.
And it demanded the Tories extend free school meals to all families who receive UC and those with No Recourse to Public Funds.
The report showed that London dominates the list of places with the highest rates of child poverty after housing costs. Top is Tower Hamlets with 55.4 percent. It’s followed by Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Southwark, Islington, Greenwich, Lambeth, Haringey, and Lewisham.
The Tories are trying to hide the grim reality of child poverty. In March this year the Department for Work and Pensions and the HMRC produced a new set of child poverty indicators.
But because they don’t take into account housing costs, they underestimate the scale of the problem.