More than a third of Tameside children living in poverty

NEW FIGURES have exposed the level of child poverty in Tameside, with more than a third below the breadline.

And in the Ashton-under-Lyne political constituency, the number is even higher with 41.6 per cent deemed to be in that category.

The End Child Poverty Coalition revealed the startling figures as it uncovered child poverty levels at a local authority and Westminster constituency level.

Research showed 37 per cent of children and young people in Greater Manchester are living in poverty, the equivalent of a staggering 11 children in a classroom of 30.

Tameside’s rate for 2021/22 is 36.1 per cent, which is a rise of 5.2 per cent since 2014/15.

Research into the number of children living in households which have below 60 per cent of the average income once housing costs are taken out uncovered the scale of the issue.

Across the north west, the number of children living in poverty has seen a worrying increase in the last seven years, rising 5.4 per cent since 2014/15.

During this time, child poverty across the UK only rose by one per cent point.

Nationally, the cost-of-living crisis has driven up the number of children experiencing poverty to 4.2 million last year (29 per cent of all dependent children aged 0-19), with an increasing number living in working households.

Some 71 per cent of them live in households where at least one adult works.

In one case study, a mum-of-four saw money problems begin a few years ago when her partner suffered an accident at work, forcing him into unemployment until after his operation and two-year recovery process.

This meant they were a family of six with just £100 to see them through the month once all bills were paid, not including food shopping.

She said: “We went without eating properly to make sure the kids were fed. I wasn’t able to do anything with the kids, like treat them or take them out.

“Christmas was very hard and we relied on present donations, which made me feel useless.

“This made my mental health deteriorate and there was a lot of stress and sleepless nights. We felt like there was no way out.

“I couldn’t return to work due to looking after my partner and kids. It made me feel worthless and hopeless, severe depression kicked in.”

The mother was put in touch with Greater Manchester Poverty Action’s Money Matters programme by her children’s school.

The programme helps people to maximise their income and manage debts.

She added: “They were a massive help and didn’t stop until they turned over every stone and did everything they could think of that would help us financially.

“It’s been a long year-and-a-half battle with living on very minimal to now becoming that bit more stable.”

Commenting on the figures, Graham Whitham, End Child Poverty Coalition spokesperson and chief executive of Greater Manchester Poverty Action said: “These new figures are shocking but not surprising.

“Child poverty rates have been rising in Greater Manchester for a number of years, and government failure to adequately support people means there is no safety net when something like the pandemic or cost-of-living crisis hit.

“Crisis responses and temporary sticking plasters are very clearly not working, and the UK government has no plan or strategy to address poverty.

“We need to see real policy change that protects and supports our poorest households, such as ending the two-child limit on benefits.

“While many of the main drivers to tackle poverty lie with central government, there are ways we can reduce poverty locally.

“We urge employers across Greater Manchester to pay the Real Living Wage, which reflects the real cost of living in a way that the statutory minimum set by government doesn’t.

“We also encourage local authorities to develop anti-poverty strategies which implement robust responses to poverty, and to use the Household Support Fund to give families money rather than in-kind support, such as food parcels and energy vouchers.”

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