Revealed – Tens of thousands of Suffolk children living in poverty

17 May, 2019 - 05:30
FIND foodbank founder Maureen Reynel said items such as new bedding were among those families it worked with were seeking. Picture: GREGG BROWN

FIND foodbank founder Maureen Reynel said items such as new bedding were among those families it worked with were seeking. Picture: GREGG BROWN

More than 50,000 children in Suffolk are being brought up in poverty, shock new statistics have revealed.

Jack Abbott called on MPs to act on child poverty. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJack Abbott called on MPs to act on child poverty. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

End Child Poverty published its 2019 figures which revealed that 28.5% of all the county's youngsters were living in poverty, based on an average of all the county's districts.

In Ipswich alone more than 12,000 children were living below the benchmark - more than one in three of the town's children.

It is measured on housing costs and earnings, meaning that a single parent earning £204 a week (after housing costs) and with one child, or a couple earning £314 a week with one child, are classed as in poverty.

Jack Abbott, Labour county councillor for the Bridge division in Ipswich, raised fears that it meant children were going without things such as breakfast or days out, and urged MPs to take action.

Ipswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCILIpswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCIL

"These are truly shocking figures which lay bare the effects of a near decade-long austerity programme," he said.

"To have nearly 50,000 children growing up in poverty in Suffolk is one of the greatest scandals of our time.

"It is intolerable that children and families should continue to suffer the toxic cocktail of deep and relentless cuts, rising living costs and stagnant wages.

"With more than two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families, it is clear that work alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty.

"This must not be allowed to become the new normal - no child should be growing up in poverty in 21st Century Britain."

Despite the stark numbers, the data suggests that the percentage for Ipswich has actually fallen by 0.6% on last year.

Ian Fisher, leader of the opposition Conservative group at Ipswich Borough Council, said: "IBC have concentrated on providing social and council housing, and we are all agreed that this is essential.

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"Unfortunately their insistence on then inviting low-income families from other areas, especially London, has vastly increased the number of such families living in the area.

"Of course, the Conservative policy is to rent these houses to local families but we also want to ensure that more private housing is built providing aspiration for Ipswich families."

He added: "It is undoubted that some families are struggling with day to day expenses and this is nothing new. The current benefits system provides a safety net for all and the level of the income is determined so as to leave each family with enough money to live on.

"The introduction of Universal Credit has also seen a huge rise in people leaving benefits and gaining work.

"We are all aware that work pays in the long run and this must be the way forward."

What the foodbank says

Ipswich foodbank FIND said that children were being caught in a poverty trap in the area.

Families are referred to FIND from a range of places including schools and children's centres.

The charity's founder Maureen Reynel MBE said that the issue of poverty was ongoing in the area and was something that the charity was continuing to deal with.

"There is a pocket of poverty in Ipswich," she said.

"There are children caught in the poverty trap because their parents are."

She said they were continuing to deal with an large number of food parcels but added that it wasn't just food that those in need were asking for but other items too like bedding and school clothes.

Earlier this month the charity began work to build a new base in Brazier Wood Road in Ipswich to ensure that volunteers had enough room to fulfil the amount of food parcels needed.

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