‘One of the greatest scandals of our time’ – One in four Ipswich children now living in poverty
PUBLISHED: 06:14 01 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:08 01 June 2020
“None of us should feel comfortable” about figures which show one in four children in Ipswich are living in poverty, the town’s MP Tom Hunt has said.
Figures released by End Child Poverty, which take government statistics on household earnings, tax, benefits and bills into account, show a 6.7% increase in child poverty in Suffolk’s county town from 2014/15 and 2018/19 – meaning it now has a child poverty rate of 25.1%
The rise accounts for the highest increase in the east of England and the joint-11th highest in the UK. Nationally, the figure rose by 2.8% in the same period and stands at 18.4%.
Luton ranks as having the worst rate in the region at 28.5%, while Suffolk as a whole has almost 50,000 children living in poverty.
Jack Abbott, Labour county councillor for Ipswich’s Bridge ward, labelled the rise as “one of the greatest scandals of our time” and said he blamed the rise on austerity measures and national government policy.
Mr Abbott said: “One in four children in Ipswich are now living in poverty - it is a damning indictment on successive Conservative governments, whose unrelenting austerity programme over the past decade has caused child poverty to rise significantly.
“In an era of low wages and job insecurity, employment alone is not a guaranteed route out of poverty - two thirds of children growing up in poverty live in a family where at least one member works.
“When you factor in education costs as well – real-term school budget cuts, the closure of children’s centres, a lack of SEND support – it becomes clear that the Conservatives are further suppressing and removing opportunities for young people.
“The coronavirus pandemic must act as a watershed moment to change the way our society works - it cannot be used as a precursor to another bout of economic, social and educational pain for those who can least afford it.”
Ipswich Conservative MP Tom Hunt said he too fears the effects of coronavirus and he will continue to tackle the issue locally, alongside support from the Education Opportunity Area.
Mr Hunt said: “We know that unfortunately there are issues in town’s like ours and we knew that last week, last month and last year.
“I do fear the Covid-19 is going to hit people already struggling even further and that they will be the hardest hit economically.
“We have already seen how children living in poverty have been affected through school closures.
“It is a problem not only for the government, but for me, the local authorities and every single one of us. None of us should feel comfortable to know that a quarter of children in our town are going through hardship.
“We need to do everything we can to support these children and their families and we can help them by ensuring we have a strong local economy, offering good and safe employment while creating a tax system which leaves more money in people’s pockets.”
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