Sheffield sees one of biggest rises in child poverty in Yorkshire

Sheffield has seen one of the biggest rises in child poverty in Yorkshire over the last four years, new analysis reveals.

Saturday, 24th October 2020, 4:45 pm

The End Child Poverty coalition, which commissioned the report showing almost a third of children across the UK live below the breadline, said families were already on a "cliff edge" before the coronavirus pandemic.

The research combined recent figures from the Department for Work and Pensions with local housing costs to produce new estimates for low-income families – those earning less than 60 per cent of the median income.

This comes as Conservative MPs voted against a call from the Labour Party to pay £15 a week in food vouchers to disadvantaged children during school holidays, until Easter 2021.

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The analysis shows 33.5 per cent of children aged 16 and under in Sheffield were living in families with low-incomes in 2018-19 – compared to 29.8 per cent in 2014-15.

This 3.7 per cent point rise is one of the biggest in Yorkshire.

The report is based on DWP data from March, and estimates of the effect of housing costs on poverty rates by Loughborough University's Centre for Research in Social Policy.

The figures show a rise in child poverty in nearly every local authority in Yorkshire and The Humber since 2014-15, with last year's highest rate in Bradford (38.3%).

In Sheffield, the number of children in low-income families rose from 30,600 in 2014-15, to 35,399 last year.

The coalition is calling on the Government to recognise the scale of the problem and its impact on children’s lives.

Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, said: “Child poverty has risen steeply in the north.

"In Yorkshire, for instance, the rate used to be on a par with the rest of the country, but it is now higher than the national average.

"Families are being pushed into poverty by systems beyond their control, and the pandemic will have only made these figures worse.

"Every child should have the chance to achieve their potential and if the Government wants to unlock that potential and create opportunities for all, then we need to strengthen the lifelines before low-income families are cut adrift.”

Across the UK, the proportion of children in low-income families rose from 28% to 30% between 2014-15 and 2018-19.

Anna Feuchtwang, chair of ECP, said: "The children affected are on a cliff edge, and the pandemic will only sweep them further into danger.

"An ambitious plan to put this shameful situation right would be transformational for millions of children."

ECP are calling on the UK Government to uprate housing assistance in line with inflation, abandon the "unconscionable" planned cuts to Universal Credit, end the benefit cap and the two-child limit on benefits, and increase child benefit.

A DWP spokesman said there are 100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty than in 2009-10, which is a measure against median income in 2011 rather than the current level.

He added: "Making sure every child gets the best start in life is central to our efforts to level up opportunity across the country.

“We have already taken significant steps to do this by raising the living wage, ending the benefit freeze and injecting more than £9.3 billion into the welfare system to help those in most need.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.