New research highlights why tackling child poverty in the North West must be top of the priority list for political parties this General Election

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By Hollie Griss, Communications and Media Officer at Greater Manchester Poverty Action

New research on local levels of child poverty, carried out by Loughborough University for the End Child Poverty Coalition, provides new information on child poverty across North West England. This highlights that a shocking 37% of all children in the region are living in relative poverty, after the cost of housing is considered.

Of the 73 constituencies in this region, many with newly defined boundaries, almost all have a child poverty rate of 25% or more – showing that child poverty, and how politicians tackle this, is a key election issue for families across this region.

The 10 new General Election constituencies with the highest levels of child poverty in the North West are:

  1. Oldham West, Chadderton and Royton
  2. Manchester Rusholme
  3. Blackburn
  4. Oldham East and Saddleworth
  5. Manchester Central
  6. Blackley and Middleton South
  7. Bolton North East
  8. Bolton South and Walkden
  9. Rochdale
  10. Hyndburn.

Levels of child poverty in the North West vary dramatically across the region – the difference between the new parliamentary constituency with the highest figure (Oldham West, Chadderton & Royton, 53.5%) and the area with the lowest (Altrincham and Sale West, 14.7%) is 39 percentage points. This demonstrates that the overall child poverty figure for the region hides much higher child poverty figures for some areas.

Graham Whitham, CEO at Greater Manchester Poverty Action said:

“The new data really illustrates the appalling levels of poverty we are seeing in the North West. Nearly four in ten children are now living in poverty across the region – with this figure rising to one in two in the worst-hit constituencies. For many this means being excluded from activities like school trips and days out, not having clothes that fit them, going to school hungry, and in some cases sharing a bed or sleeping on the floor.

“No child should go without the things they need to be healthy and happy. We urgently need to see a commitment from the incoming government to develop a national mission to end poverty, backed by a clear anti-poverty strategy with real policy change. Whichever party forms the next government, they must commit to ending the cruel two-child limit policy – which forces parents into unimaginable choices, denies families the support they need from our social security system, and limits the potential of thousands of children and young people across our country.

“At a local level, we urge employers to pay the Living Wage and encourage local authorities to develop their own anti-poverty strategies, which implement robust responses to poverty in their communities.”

Rachel Walters, End Child Poverty Coalition Manager said:

“Whoever wins the election needs to urgently get a grip on child poverty. Rising costs and stalling wages are making it impossible for families to make ends meet. Across the North West parents are having to use food banks to feed their children and babies are being born into homes where parents can’t afford to keep their houses warm in winter.

“Our social security system, like our NHS, should be there for us all, especially when we need it most. We need a social security system that’s fit for the 21st Century. One that ensures all children can flourish, instead of one that pushes families into poverty, with its two-child limit to benefit payments. This policy must be scrapped immediately.”

Across the North West 13% of all children live in a family whose benefit payments are reduced by the two-child limit – a policy which pushes families into poverty by reducing benefit payments by up to £3,455 per child (if born after April 2017) in 2023/24. That is over 200,000 children who are impacted. This figure is higher than the national average of 10%.

As a result of these findings, the End Child Poverty Coalition is calling for a strategy to tackle child poverty to be at the top of the priority list for all political parties in the General Election. Alongside this, they urge all political parties to commit to scrapping the two-child limit to benefit payments immediately. Research shows that lifting the two-child limit to benefit payments is the most effective way to reduce child poverty. Doing so would lift 300,000 children out of poverty across the UK at a cost of £1.8 billion.

Across the UK child poverty costs an estimated £39 billion a year, this is comprised in part due to the cost on public services to help address the damage done to children growing up in poverty.

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This article is featured in our 12 June newsletter.

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i3oz9sNew research highlights why tackling child poverty in the North West must be top of the priority list for political parties this General Election