SADLY, we are only at the beginning of the economic and social impacts that the coronavirus will have on our region.

And yet we are already seeing that there is a real concern that levels of child poverty are growing.

On Page 4 today, we report how voluntary organisations and the North-East Chamber of Commerce have joined together to urge the Government to address the situation as part of its levelling up agenda.

There is no magic money tree. Our levels of debt are soaring. But can we afford to leave the poorest behind so that, when the pandemic passes, we are left with a nation so deeply divided that the horrid consequences of decades past return?

The lead should come from central government, and unfortunately it missed its big opportunity this week in the school meals vote, but others can help out, too. That’s why the other story on Page 4 is so reassuring, that establishments from village pubs to city restaurants are offering to provide free food to those in need.

This, again, shows that this problem is not imagined, as some would have it. It is real, and it looks likely to get worse.