Child poverty rising in Shropshire, new figures show

Child poverty has risen in the county over the last four years, new analysis has revealed.

Child poverty is rising in the county
Child poverty is rising in the county

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.

The analysis shows 31.5 per cent of children aged 16 and under in Telford and Wrekin were living in families with low-incomes in 2018-19 – compared to 28.6 per cent in 2014-15.

This 2.8 per cent percentage point rise is one of the biggest in the West Midlands.

In the Shropshire Council area it is 28.2 per cent, compared to 26.3 per cent in 2014-15. In Powys it is 29.3 per cent, rising from 28.6 per cent over the same time period.

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 the West Midlands since 2014-15, with last year's highest rate in Birmingham (41.6 per cent).

Across the whole of the region, the average rate was 34 per cent.

In Telford and Wrekin, the number of children in low-income families rose from 9,933 in 2014-15, to 11,512 last year. For Shropshire the number rose from 13,634 to 14,872

In Powys the number fell from 6,267 in 2014-15, to 6,228 last year.

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

Thomas Lawson, chief executive at Turn2us, said: “In 2001, our Government set a target to end child poverty by 2020, yet here we are reporting once again that it is rising.

“Low wages, soaring rents and the stubbornly high cost of living is pulling families into poverty and drying up the opportunities of so many young people across the country – particularly in the West Midlands.

“If the Government truly believes in compassion and justice, ministers must first admit the problem then fully commit to solving it. We are urging the Prime Minister to listen to our recommendations and include them in a comprehensive strategy to end child poverty once and for all.”

Across the UK, the proportion of children in low-income families rose from 28 per cent to 30 per cent 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.”

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