New figures have found that over a quarter of children in Darlington and County Durham are living in relative poverty.

New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions shows 22,332 children in County Durham were living in relative poverty in the year ending April 2022.

Figures also showed 4,963 children in Darlington were living in relative poverty in the year ending April 2022.

This means that 25.2 per cent of children in Darlington, and 25.4 per cent of children in County Durham, were in a family whose income was below 60% of average household income and claimed child benefit and at least one other household benefit.

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Addressing these figures, Paul Darby, Durham County Council’s corporate director of resources, said: “Although levels of child poverty have decreased from the previous year, this is something that we remain concerned about and continue to act on through our poverty strategy and action plan.

“We have put in place a number of measures to try to support families facing significant challenges, caused by the continued impact of the pandemic and rising cost of living.

"We continue to support the county’s most vulnerable households through our Welfare Assistance Scheme, while our Fun and Food programme offers free activities and healthy snacks for children and young people in the school holidays.

“Partnership work is also key to supporting our low-income and vulnerable households and our revised poverty strategy and action plan aims to develop this further.

"By working together, we can help improve the outcomes for our residents and provide children across the county with more equal opportunities.”

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Meanwhile, Save the Children have said the statistics serve as proof families are still in "crisis" as inflation increases.

Adding to this, figures published in the report also showed that 4,047 (20.5%) children were in absolute poverty.

This means they come from a family whose income was lower than 60 per cent of the median income established in 2010-2011.

This is down from 28.5 per cent of children who were living in poverty in 2020-21, but up from 16.5 per cent in 2014-15 when comparable records began.

While in County Durham, 18,404 (20.9%) children were found to be in absolute poverty.

This is down from from 28.7 per cent of children who were living in poverty in 2020-21 but up from 17.5% seen in 2014-15 when comparable records began.

In response to these figures, Darlington MP Peter Gibson said: "Our cost of living package is worth £3,300 to every household, we have uprated pensions and benefits by 10.1%, and there has been the largest ever cash increase in the national living wage.

"Since 2010 absolute levels of poverty have been declining and fewer children now grow up in workless households.

"It is this Conservative Government that has extended free school meals, and this Conservative Government that delivered the holiday food and activities programme, putting support in place for some of the poorest in society.

"We know there are only two long term real solutions to poverty, namely work and education.

"The central missions of the Government’s levelling up agenda are to reduce regional inequality, spread opportunity and increase prosperity right across the United Kingdom.

"I will continue working to deliver more jobs and opportunity to Darlington, I know that there is still more work to do."

Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, said he was surprised more attention has not been paid to children in low-income families considering the current economic climate.

He said: “It’s astonishing that, despite the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and the prospect of rising child poverty for years to come, the Government is not targeting help for children in low-income families.

“There is so much more this Government can do in these tough times to stop those with the least from suffering the most."

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Across the UK, 2.47 million children (20.1%) were in relative poverty and 1.89 million children (15.3%) were in absolute poverty.

About 18.7 per cent of children were in relative poverty and 15.1 per cent in absolute poverty the year before.

Within England, Leicester had the highest proportion of children aged under 16 in relative low income families (41.7%) and City of London had the highest proportion in absolute low income families (38.9%).