51,000 more children are living in poverty in the North East than in 2014/15, shocking new figures show.

At 34 per cent up from 2014/15 rates, it is the largest rise anywhere in the country over that period and has been deemed “simply unacceptable” and “shameful” by campaigners in the region.

The same analysis, published today by Loughborough University for the End Child Poverty coalition, estimates that almost 190,000 – equivalent to 35 per cent – of babies, children, and young people are living in below the poverty line in the region.

Of the children in the North East living in poverty, nearly one in seven come from a working household.

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Emile de Bruijn, the co-founder and Chair of Hartlepool Baby Bank, has been working on the front lines of the child poverty crisis and has seen its impact first-hand. She says that her charity has seen “absolutely no let-up in growth in demand” since opening in 2019.

“We’re just about hanging on in terms of what we can manage. Poverty is exhausting, not just for the families and children directly affected, but for the community organisations working day in and day out to help parents and carers just to keep their heads above water.

“It cannot be right that so many families across our region are now turning to charities to support them with the absolute basics. It just isn’t sustainable, and the Government must take action to rapidly reduce the number of children living in serious hardship across the North East.”

In the UK, there are 4.2 million children living below the poverty line in 2021/22. This is equivalent to 29 per cent across the country, which is the same national rate as 2014/15.

But today’s report has found that of the twenty UK Parliamentary seats that have seen the biggest rises in child poverty since 2014/15, six of them are in the North East.

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These include:

  • Middlesbrough (a 16.7 percentage point increase since 2014/15, which is the second highest in the country).
  • Redcar (12.2 ppt).
  • Sedgefield (12.2 ppt).
  • Darlington (11.4 ppt).
  • Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (11.3 ppt).

Leigh Elliott, the Chief Executive of the charity Children North East, branded these statistics “shameful when we have the resources and ability as a country to put this right.”

Additionally, more than a third of the children living in 21 of the North East’s 29 Westminster constituencies are currently living in poverty – with the highest rates being in Middlesbrough (48.7 per cent), Newcastle Central (43.0 per cent), and South Shields (39.7 per cent).

It is worth noting that the report uses figures for the year ending March 2022, and therefore does not consider the period where the cost-of-living crisis and soaring inflation took hold of the nation.

Anna Turley, the Chair of the North East Child Poverty Commission, deemed the increase in child poverty rates “simply unacceptable”.

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She said: “The findings of this report are all the more shocking because we know that poverty is not an unsolvable problem.

“In what remains one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it is absolutely within our gift to fix this, and doing so should be the aim of any Government.

Tracey Herrington, the manager of Thrive Teesside, added: “Behind everyone one of these statistics is a child whose family has seen the gap between what they have and what they need to get by grow even bigger, and those whose opportunities have been restricted as a result.”