The King’s Speech lacked a plan to deal with the North East’s high levels of child poverty, campaigners have said.

King Charles III delivered his first King’s Speech as monarch on Tuesday (November 7) lunchtime, the first in over 70 years after the Queen’s long reign.

The lengthy speech was the longest for nearly 20 years and contained Rishi Sunak’s ambitions in government.

There were few surprises as policies including a ban on anyone currently aged under 14 ever buying tobacco, ending no-fault evictions and paving the way for self-driving cars.

While the proposals were welcomed by some, child poverty campaigners said failure to mention the issue showed a “lack of vision” on addressing poverty.

The word poverty did not feature anywhere in the 11-minute address in the House of Lords.

Interim Chair of the North East Child Poverty Commission, Michele Deans, said: “The King’s Speech spoke today about building a better future for our children and grandchildren, and yet completely failed to address one of the single biggest barriers to achieving this for the North East – unacceptably high child poverty and growing levels of hardship for families right across our region.

“Until we have an ambitious, cross-government plan to significantly reduce and then end child poverty in the UK – backed up by real investment in families – we will not achieve the North East we all want to see, where every baby, child and young person growing up here can thrive, pursue their ambitions and fulfil their potential. 

“The complete lack of vision on this issue, at a point when it’s never been more needed, is simply not good enough. North East children and families, who have endured so much through a pandemic and cost of living crisis, deserve so much better.”

It comes as Helen Barnard, director of the UK-wide Trussel Trust network of foodbanks said the speech offered “no hope” for those facing extreme hardship.

She called on the Government to “step up and do something”, telling the PA news agency: “There wasn’t really any acknowledgement that there are millions of people facing really extreme hardship.

“There wasn’t any hope in the King’s Speech for the people that we’re seeing in our communities. So we need the Government in the autumn statement to show that they recognise what’s going on, and that they’re going to take responsibility.”

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Meanwhile, business leaders in our region welcomed news of investment here with the speech committing to ‘Network North’, the PM’s new plan for transport after scrapping the most northerly leg of HS2 during his Tory Party Conference speech last month.

Rachel Anderson from the North East Chamber of Commerce said: “Investment in better transport connections, particularly in the North, is welcome.

“We would very much hope to see backing for the Leamside Line in the proposed Network North bill, and need to see this backed up by fast action. It’s vital this essential piece of infrastructure is finally delivered.”