Posted on 23 January 2023
The Child Poverty and the Cost of Living Crisis report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group Child of the North, has found that children in the North are some of the least protected from the current cost of living crisis.
New analysis released today (24 Jan) shows that child poverty, including fuel poverty and food insecurity, is higher in the North than the rest of England. For many families the current economic chaos will deepen an enduring child poverty crisis in the region.
The report found:
The report authors have issued a stark warning to government that rising living costs will lead to immediate and lifelong harms for children: worsening physical and mental health outcomes; undermining children’s learning, social wellbeing and education; and risking lower lifelong health and productivity.
Kate Pickett, Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York, and co-author of the new report, said: “Many areas across the North of England have seen rising child poverty in recent years.
“As economic stress is pushing up the price of food, energy and fuel, more and more families are having to make difficult decisions on how to spend their money.
“We risk seeing more children falling deeper into poverty if measures aren’t implemented by government to adequately help those living in areas that are the most vulnerable to rising living costs.”
Emma Lewell-Buck, MP and Co-Chair APPG Child of the North, said: “Whilst poverty is, sadly, not a new experience for many children in the North, the scale and severity of deprivation is now unprecedented.
"As the cost of living crisis worsens, vulnerable children and families, especially in the North, are being pushed to the edge. This report outlines the injustice of deprivation in our country and presents policy measures that, if implemented, could ensure that children in our region are never left hungry, cold or without.”
Mary Robinson, MP Co-Chair APPG Child of the North, said: “The findings of the report serve as a stark reminder of the devastating reality of child poverty in the North. It is heartbreaking to hear stories of those living this reality and the uncertainty of what the future holds. What is clear is the need for immediate action to tackle the crisis before long-term harm is caused to the children of the North.”
David Taylor Robinson, Professor of Public Health and Policy at the University of Liverpool, and co-author of the report, said: “Poverty is the key driver of inequalities between children in the North and the rest of the country, which we know leads to worse physical and mental health, poorer educational attainment and life chances.
"All children, no matter where they are born, should be entitled to the same life chances. However, we know this sadly isn’t the case. The pandemic contributed to widening inequalities and now the rising cost of living will place further strain on families with children.
“Parents across the North are having to go without meals to feed their children, and the situation will only get worse unless policies are put in place to ensure families have enough support to keep their children fed and warm.”
Hannah Davies, Health Inequalities lead for the Northern Health Science Alliance and report co-author, said: “It comes as no surprise that areas across the North of England are regarded as being the most vulnerable to the cost of living crisis.
"The combination of increasing inflation, more people living in poverty, in lower paid jobs or unable to work, in receipt of social security support, and already facing high levels of financial stress and debt, makes it extremely difficult for families to absorb new shocks on costs. We urge the government to prioritise the health and wellbeing of children and to consider the clear recommendations put forward in this report.”
Sophie Balmer, End Child Poverty Youth Ambassador, said: “Having grown up living in a family on a low income, I want to use my voice to explain the reality of what it's like for hundreds of thousands of children across the North. Even now I am at university and relatively financially secure, the worry doesn’t leave. I remember the unbearable anxiety and how it all impacted on my life.
"The greatest impact was on my education. It isn't just missing a meal or feeling hungry during the day, it’s the worry of how your sister’s school trip will be paid for, or how you haven't seen your mam eat a proper meal in days - all going through your head in a chemistry lesson. It creates anxiety. And when combined with the stress of school, this explains the impact on educational attainment for children living in poverty.
"The pressure for change is much more intense at the minute. The government needs to help families. It doesn't feel like an ask anymore. It’s an absolute need.”
The report was prepared by experts from northern organisations and universities for the APPG Child of the North. The APPG brings together policy makers and experts in child outcomes from across the country to find solutions to the disparities suffered by children in the North of England. The group was launched following the publication of The Child of the North report, produced by the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) and N8 Research Partnership.
A suite of recommendations to government have been laid out by the report authors to ensure families with children have enough money and security of income to meet basic needs, such as healthy food to eat and warm homes.
The recommendations include:
About the APPG
The All-Party Parliamentary Group Child of the North brings together policy makers and experts in child outcomes from across the country to find solutions to the disparities suffered by children in the North of England. The Northern Health Science Alliance provides the secretariat for the APPG.
About the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA)
The NHSA ltd is a partnership established by the leading Universities and NHS Hospital Trusts in the North of England to improve the health and wealth of the region by creating an internationally recognised life science and healthcare system. It links ten universities and ten research-intensive NHS Teaching Trusts with four Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs covering a population of over 16 million).
The NHSA’s members include: Newcastle University, Durham University, University of York, University of Liverpool, University of Manchester, Lancaster University, University of Central Lancashire, University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Leeds, The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds Teaching Hospitals, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Foundation NHS Trust, Innovation Agency, Yorkshire and Humber AHSN, AHSN North East North Cumbria, Health Innovation Manchester.
For more information on the NHSA visit www.theNHSA.co.uk
The NHSA, in partnership with MedCity, received funding from Research England for a three-year project to improve the visibility of UK life sciences expertise on the international stage, which began in early 2020. Funding is being provided from the Research England Development (RED) Fund which supports strategic projects aiming to implement innovations in research and knowledge exchange.
Research England shapes healthy, dynamic research and knowledge exchange in English universities. It distributes over £2.2bn to universities in England every year; works to understand their strategies, capabilities and capacity; and supports and challenges universities to create new knowledge, strengthen the economy, and enrich society. Research England is part of UK Research and Innovation alongside the seven Research Councils and Innovate UK. www.ukri.org/re, @ResEngland
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The All-Party Parliamentary Group Child of the North brings together policy makers and experts in child outcomes from across the country to find solutions to the disparities suffered by children in the North of England. The Child Poverty and the Cost of Living Crisis report found that children in the North are some of the least protected from the current cost of living crisis.