STICK with me, says Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the plan is working. Yesterday, figures confirmed that Britain was in recession in the second half of last year.

It’s a mild recession, thankfully not accompanied by the mass unemployment of previous recessions, and we’re probably already nudging our way out of it with, hopefully, a smidgeon of economic growth returning.

This matters because it is only with a growing economy that we can afford to tackle some of the social issues that are now becoming endemic across the country.

Also yesterday, the North East Child Poverty Commission released a report that again laid out how 35 per cent of the youngest people in the North East now growing up in poverty. In the poorest area, Newport in Middlesbrough, 66 per cent – two thirds – in poverty. This is desperately unfair on those youngsters whose life chances are affected by it, and it is not sustainable for the country as it becomes a repeating cycle across the generations.

And it is not because these people are workshy: 67 per cent of North East children who are in poverty are from working families.

Something has to change, and the Commission is now pinning its hopes on the new wave of mayors who, closer to the ground than distant Westminster, will actually see and understand what is going on in the most affected communities.

There is merit in this hope, although the mayors will need to see themselves as more than just job-creating factories: they’ll need to be dirty among the grass roots, looking at health provision, housing conditions, school attendance, transport routes…

It is a big job, and they’ll need resources to do it, resources that can only come if the economy can be shaken out of the lethargy that has affected it since 2008.