Children’s lives may be further put in danger by government cuts, a Manchester MP claimed this week – only days after it was revealed the city had higher child poverty than anywhere else in the country.
The report, published by the Campaign to End Child Poverty, highlighted a shocking 47% of children in Manchester Central were classed as being below the poverty line.
Following publication of the figures Labour MP Lucy Powell spoke out about her fears that any further government cuts may put children’s lives in more danger.
“These figures are truly devastating and it is a horrible reflection of our society that so many children live in poverty,” she explained.
“In Manchester Central I have a constituency with the highest level of child poverty in the country, the highest number of people affected by the bedroom tax and a council facing some of the worst cuts of any other Local Authority.
“What we deserve to know is, why are the Government singling out Manchester to bear the worst of these cuts when figures like these show we can bear it the least?”
The 47% figure is more than double the national average of 20.2%, and 5% more than the next highest constituencies in the study – Belfast West and Glasgow North East.
Furthermore the report showed the large disparity in poverty rates across the North West, with the nearby constituency of Ribble Valley showing a figure of just 7%.
Child poverty was lowest in Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s constituency of Sheffield Hallam (5%) while Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency of Witney also sat under 10%.
Chair of the campaign Enver Solomon said following the revelations the government must now closely examine its current strategy for reducing poverty before children’s lives are ruined.
She said: “Far too many children whose parents are struggling to make a living have to go hungry and miss out on the essentials of a decent childhood that all young people should be entitled to.
“The huge disparities that exist across the country have become more entrenched and are now an enduring reality as many more children are set to become trapped in long term poverty and disadvantage.
“Local authorities have to deal with reduced budgets but they have critical decisions to make. We’re calling on authorities to prioritise low income families in the decisions they make about local welfare spending.”
The report also made dire reading for the city’s local authority officials as only the London borough of Tower Hamlets (42%) had a higher percentage of children in poverty.
Over 41,000 (29%) children in Manchester’s local authority lived under the poverty line compared to 14,929 (29%) in Salford and 7,722 (15%) in Trafford.
Assistant Director of Barnardos North West, Paul Wilcox said these figures are a clear illustration of just how bad the situation has got in the region.
He said: “The grim reality is that many families are experiencing vicious cycles of debt and facing impossible choices between heating homes and eating hot meals.
“These figures show almost half of children in Manchester are living in poverty and their life chances risk being compromised by our nation’s failure to tackle child poverty effectively.
“The Government must act now to end child poverty by providing practical help to the people who need it most, taking steps to bring down energy bills, tackle family debt, and make childcare more affordable.”
Children are classed as being in poverty when living with families claiming out of work benefits or in-work tax credits where household income is less than 60% of the median income.
Full details of the report, including an interactive poverty map can be found at www.endchildpoverty.org.uk
Picture courtesy of Stephen Downes, with thanks.