North East MPs have joined forces to urge the Government to take immediate steps to tackle child poverty, in a letter coordinated by Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North and sent to the Chancellor today ahead of the Spring Budget.

The North East has the country’s second highest rate of child poverty and has experienced the steepest increase in the five years leading to 2018/2019. As Coronavirus hit, 35% of children and young people in the region were growing up poor, and the pandemic has only exacerbated this growing problem.

Catherine and other North East colleagues have met online with the North East Child Poverty Commission to discuss how this issue can be urgently addressed. The Commission made clear that it would take combined action to ensure that children and young people in the region can access opportunities and have the same life chances as anyone else.

Catherine said: 

“Growing levels of child poverty are preventing too many children and young people in the North East from reaching their full potential. Tackling these issues needs to be put at the heart of the upcoming budget and recovery plans.

“The North East has the UK’s second highest rate of child poverty. This shameful statistic is a blight on our communities and is a direct consequence of 11 years of failed austerity that has caused significant harm in our neighbourhoods.

“Urgent action is needed to tackle this depressing situation, especially as this is something that has been made worse by the pandemic. The Spring Budget is an opportunity to act on the promises made to the people of the North East and Newcastle.

“The Government must retain the £20 Universal Credit uplift beyond the end of March, with a commitment to increasing child-related benefits in the near future. The Government’s post-Covid recovery must also include action to tackle low paid and insecure work affecting working families.”

You can read the letter here: