Guest Article from The Wythenshawe Reporter:
Figures revealed by the End Child Poverty coalition, on the 24 January, show that in the five local authority wards in Wythenshawe around 34 per cent of youngsters are in poverty after housing costs are taken into account.
The campaign blames the shockingly high levels of poverty in the most deprived areas of the country on benefits policy and price rises and is calling on the public to lobby MPs to urge the government to lift the freeze on benefits for children – currently in place until the end of the decade – so that families no longer see living standards squeezed as prices rise.
In Wythenshawe, 6.728 children are in poverty – defined as in families living on less than the median household income – with the highest concentration, 36 per cent in Woodhouse Park where 1,333 youngsters are below the breadline. The largest number of children in poverty in the town is in Sharston, 1,604, representing 35 per cent.
Wythenshawe’s MP, Mike Kane has called on the Government to take immediate action to tackle poverty. He told the Reporter:
“Statistics published by the End Child Poverty Coalition this week on the levels of children living in poverty are a scandal.
“They are the result of this Conservative Government’s flawed policy of cuts and changes to the welfare system. My advice surgery is regularly attended by families who are struggling to make ends meet. It is a disgrace that in 2018 we have a growing need for food bank provision in Wythenshawe.
“As Wythenshawe’s MP I have called for a pause and rethink from the Government on the roll out of Universal Credit which is causing unnecessary suffering and hardship. It is becoming increasing clear that progress on tackling poverty has begun to unravel with falling state support and increasing in-work poverty. I believe this is completely unacceptable and the Government needs to act now.”
The research was carried out on behalf of End Child Poverty by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, led by Professor Donald Hirsch, and paints an even bleaker picture for other parts of Greater Manchester, with 62% of children in Coldhurst ward in Oldham living in poverty.
In Manchester’s Gorton and Central constituencies nearly half of the children there, 48 per cent, are below the poverty line, with the figures for Rusholme and Moss Side both at 56 per cent. In Withington there are 34 per cent of children in poverty with the highest concentration in the Old Moat ward.
Since the introduction of the benefit freeze, the coalition of charities, faith groups and unions has warned that as prices rise, low income families would find it increasingly hard to pay for the same basic essentials.
“It is scandalous that a child born in some parts of the UK now has a greater chance of growing up in poverty, than being in a family above the breadline”, said Sam Royston, Chair of End Child Poverty and Director of Policy and Research at the Children’s Society. “There can be little doubt that the Government’s policy of maintaining the benefits freeze despite rising prices is a major contributor to the emerging child poverty crisis.”
The coalition is also concerned that the impact of poverty may be exacerbated by a poverty premium – which means that low income families can face paying as much as £1700 per year more than better off families, to buy the same essential goods and services. A major contributor to this is the high cost of credit for low income families, and the coalition wants to see the Government address this by providing better access to interest free credit.
Sam Royston said “No family in modern Britain should be struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes and clothe their children. End Child Poverty is calling on the Chancellor to end the freeze on children’s benefits, and to invest in interest free credit for low income families, to ensure that poverty doesn’t result in spiralling debt.”
A Government spokesman said: “The best route out of poverty is through employment, and since 2010 an extra three million more people are now in work and 600,000 fewer children are living in workless households.
“But we recognise that budgets are tight, and that’s why we’re helping families keep more of what they earn. We’ve doubled free childcare – worth £5,000 per child each year – while our £2.5 billion pupil premium programme is supporting two million disadvantaged schoolchildren across the country.”
First Published in The Wythenshawe Reporter on the 25 January 2018
The End Child Poverty coalition figures can be accessed by – clicking here
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