Sheffield families at 'even greater risk' of falling into poverty says MP

Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley
Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley
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Louise Haigh has attacked the government over new child poverty figures.

The Sheffield Heeley MP has condemned the Conservatives approach to social security after newly released statistics showed thousands of children in poverty across Sheffield.

End Child Poverty Group's November 2016 report shows there are 5,888 children in Heeley living in poverty. That is 29.4% of all children within Miss Haigh's constituency.

Brightside and Hillsborough was listed as the 14th worst constituency in the country, with 39.7% of children, 11,706, said to be living in poverty according to the Group's criteria.

“It’s clear the government’s benefits freeze is eating away the incomes of some of the poorest people in my constituency as prices rise." said Miss Haigh, who is now serving as Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy.

“At the same time, the Universal Credit scheme has stretched work support further, and led to severe cuts to in-work benefits. This puts the incomes of working families at even greater risk."

"Even in the Prime Minister’s own constituency, more than one in eight children lives in poverty – this is unacceptable, and people in our city know it.”

Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP Gil Furniss responded by saying: "The number of children living in poverty in Sheffield and across the country is a national disgrace. All too often it is working parents doing the right thing that have to rely on foodbanks to get by.

“Whether it’s cutting benefits, closing Sure Start Centres, or the likes of Concentrix stopping single parents’ Tax Credits on no evidence, the Government are undermining families struggling to make ends meet.”

End Child Poverty state that households are living in poverty if their income is less than 60% of the national average, and all their poverty rates are calculated on an 'after housing costs basis'.

Sheffield Central was the second highest in the city with 34.9%, which accounts for 5,451 children, while Sheffield South East was just behind Heeley with 29.2%, accounting for 6,187 children.

Nick Clegg's Sheffield Hallam constituency had a relatively low percentage of 10%, 1.645 children, but Ed Miliband's Doncaster North was a fairly high 31.3% with 7,060 kids living in poor conditions.

Don Valley - 28.1% - 5,794 children, and Doncaster Central - 30.5% - 7,131 children, were not far behind.

The End Child Poverty coalition are made up of over 100 faith groups, trade unions and children's charities, they have stated that 'growing up in poverty means being cold, going hungry, and not being able to join in activities with friends.'

The Group have released statistics for every constituency in the country, and they blame the government's benefit cuts for the figures.

A spokesman for End Child Poverty said: "We are calling on the Government to use the upcoming Autumn Statement to end the freeze on children’s benefits, and to reverse the sharp cuts being introduced to in-work benefits under Universal Credit."

A DWP spokesperson said: “Tackling poverty and delivering real social reform is a priority for this Government. The number of people in relative low income has fallen by 300,000 since 2010 and we are going further to help the most disadvantaged with a focus on tackling the root causes – not just the symptoms – of poverty.

“Work is the best route out of poverty. The number of children living in working households is at a record high and by increasing the National Living Wage and taking millions of people out of paying any income tax, we are ensuring it always pays to be in work.”