Rise in children living in families with low incomes in Sheffield
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The Joseph Rowntree Foundation think tank has called on the Government to raise Universal Credit to stop child poverty compounding the "human suffering" of the coronavirus pandemic, following an increase in the proportion of children in low-income families across Great Britain.
A family is defined as low-income if they earn less than 60 per cent of the median income – a measure of average earnings which takes the middle point – before housing costs are taken into account, which is currently £308 per week.
In Sheffield, 23.9 per cent of children under 16 were living in families with relative low incomes in 2018-19, Department for Work and Pensions figures show.
That was an increase compared to the 22.9 per cent recorded in 2017-18, and means 25,302 children in the area now come from low-income families.
A family has to have claimed Universal Credit, Tax Credits or Housing Benefit at some point in the year to be counted in the statistics.
Across Great Britain, the proportion of children belonging to families on low incomes rose slightly to 18.4 per cent in 2018-19, compared to 18.2 per cent the year before.
This amounts to 2.3 million children throughout Britain, which the Children's Society said should "appal l us all".
Dr Sam Royston, director of policy and research at the charity, said: "Living in poverty has a hugely damaging effect on children’s lives, leaving them more likely to experience low well-being, poor mental health and with poorer future prospects.
“Without substantial intervention the coronavirus will undoubtedly unleash further harm to the poorest in society.
“ There is no time to waste."
Helen Barnard, acting director at Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said an uplift of £20 per week for families with children claiming Universal Credit would keep many from being pulled into poverty.
She added: "Children growing up in poverty are locked out of opportunities and unable to take part in society to the same extent as their peers.
“ As a compassionate society, we cannot accept this.”