Thousands of children across Burnley and Pendle are living in poverty as worrying trend continues to rise.
New data published today shows that a total of 8,829 children in Burnley – almost half within the town – are classed as living in poverty after housing costs.
Burnley's figures are the seventh highest in the North-West while Pendle finds itself ninth in the national 'top ten' child poverty list.
A total of 10,293 children in Pendle (44.7% of the population) are having their lives limited by poverty.
The End Child Poverty coalition is calling for the major parties to outline ambitious child poverty-reduction strategies as the data highlights worrying levels of child poverty across Britain.
Researchers from Loughborough University estimated the numbers of children locked in poverty in each constituency, ward and local authority area across the country, showing that child poverty is rising particularly rapidly in parts of the North-West.
The worst hit area in the region is Blackburn with Darwen where almost half (47%) of children are living in poverty after housing costs are taken into account. And it’s closely followed by Manchester (45%) and then Pendle (44%).
The research shows poverty is rising fastest in places where it is already highest, suggesting that inequality between areas is growing.
Imran Hussain, director of Policy and Campaigns at Action for Children, said: “Our frontline services tell us that child poverty levels are at the worst they can remember and for too many families in the North-West, living on the breadline means life can be a constant struggle. We see children and their families worn down by the misery of surviving on food banks or being dragged into debt.
“They face impossible choices between paying bills or buying food and the harsh daily reality affects half a million children across the North-West of England, swallowing them in a relentless cycle of poverty.
“Cuts to frontline services and family benefits weaken our safety net to protect children across the North-West and beyond. The government must put our children first by properly funding benefits and services to support families when they need it most.”
Anna Feuchtwang, chairman of the End Child Poverty coalition, added: "We know what causes child poverty and we know how to end it. We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs. And we know that work alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.
"Yet in many areas growing up in poverty is not the exception it’s the rule with more children expected to get swept up in poverty in the coming years, with serious consequences for their life chances. Policymakers can no longer deny the depth of the problem or abandon entire areas to rising poverty. The Government must respond with a credible child poverty-reduction strategy.
"The Government’s own data shows that child poverty in the UK has been rising steadily in recent years. This just isn’t right.
"Growing up in poverty means growing up trapped. It restricts a child’s chances of doing well at school, of living a healthy and happy life, and of finding well paid work as adults.
"We urgently need Government to set a course of action that will free our children from the grip of poverty.’
End Child Poverty is calling for Government to set out an ambitious and credible child poverty-reduction strategy, including:
- Restoring the link between benefits (including housing support) and inflation, and then making up for the loss in the real value in children’s benefits as a result of the four-year freeze and previous sub-inflation increases in benefit rates.
- Ending the two-child limit on child allowances in tax credits and universal credit-and reforming Universal Credit;
- Reversing the cuts and investing in children’s services such as mental health, education, childcare and social care.