One in eight Northamptonshire children living in poverty last year, according to government figures

Charities sounding alarm bells as cost-of-living crisis grows

By Patrick Jack, Data Reporter
Monday, 4th April 2022, 1:02 pm

One in eight children across Northamptonshire were living in poverty during the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

Child poverty charities warn that the government's response to the cost of living crisis risks reversing the fall in the number of children living below the breadline across the UK.

Department for Work and Pensions data published last week shows 11,467 under-16s in West Northamptonshire lived in families with low incomes in the 12 months to April 2021 – an estimated 13.7 percent of all youngsters in the area.

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More than 20,000 Northamptonshire children were living in poverty during the Covid pandemic, according to government figures

That was down from 14 percent the year before, but more than the 12.8 percent in 2014-15, when comparable figures were first published.

In North Northamptonshire, 9,932 under-16s lived in families with low incomes – an estimated 13.8 percent of all youngsters in the area.

A family is defined as in low income if it earns less than 60 percent of the national median household income before housing costs are considered.

Families are included in the figures if they have claimed child benefit alongside another means of support, such as Universal Credit, tax credits or housing benefit, at some point in the year.

Different figures – taking housing costs into account – show 3.9 million UK children were living in relative poverty in 2020-21. This was down from 4.3 million the year before, but still 300,000 more than a decade previously in 2010-11.

The Child Poverty Action Group said this fall shows the government has the power to protect children from poverty.

But Alison Garnham, the charity's chief executive, said: "Many of the children who were lifted out of poverty by the £20 increase to Universal Credit have already been forced back over the brink by the government’s actions.

"And as millions struggle with spiralling costs, we know the picture will worsen."

Of the children aged 0-15 in poverty in Northamptonshire last year, nearly 7,000 were under five. Another 4,500 youngsters aged 16-19 were in low income families.

Action for Children said the Government risks failing on its manifesto pledge to cut child poverty and force millions of families into years of "miserable hardship" without further measures.

Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns at the organisation, said: "As prices continue to rise, more low-income parents who were just about managing could go under, with no tips, tricks or hacks left to stretch their income over the month.

"As well as the current cost of living crisis, many families with children are still reeling from October’s £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit."

The DWP warned its data should be treated with caution, especially when compared with previous years, due to changes in data collection during lockdowns, which affected the sample size and composition.

A government spokesman said the landscape is different now than it was during the pandemic and that filling the record number of vacancies is the best route out of poverty.

He added that Universal Credit changes mean claimants in some working households are £1,000 better off on average, that the minimum wage has risen to £9.50 and National Insurance will be cut for more than 30 million people from July.

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