Almost 15,000 county children ‘in poverty’

Coun Scott Dickinson, county councillor for the Druridge Bay ward.
Coun Scott Dickinson, county councillor for the Druridge Bay ward.

Nearly 15,000 children in Northumberland are living in poverty, new figures reveal.

The statistics were released by the End Child Poverty coalition, covering the period from July to September 2017, following analysis of tax credit data and national trends in worklessness.

They show that a total of 14,847 (24.18 per cent) youngsters throughout the county face poverty – up from 23.48 per cent in the 2016 figures (October to December 2015).

In the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency, the Druridge Bay ward is the worst affected area, with 343 children (30.66 per cent) living below the breadline.

Ward councillor Scott Dickinson said: “These figures don’t surprise me, but they sadden me.

“Never as a local member have I seen foodbanks and support services at places like Hadston House required so much.

“Luckily in Hadston and Widdrington we have a fantastic community spirit that pulls together and helps one another, dedicated parish councillors and community organisations that provide a community wealth that money cannot buy.”

The totals for the Lynemouth and Pegswood wards are 243 (27.01 per cent) and 220 (22.05 per cent) respectively.

The figures are much lower in other wards, including Ponteland North – 138 children (15.48 per cent) and Longhorsley – 58 children (9.56 per cent) respectively.

The worst area in the county is Hirst in Ashington (40.14 per cent), which is in Ian Lavery MP’s Wansbeck constituency.

Other wards above 35 per cent include Newbiggin Central and East (40 per cent) and Ashington Central (38.64 per cent).

The figures for the Morpeth wards are as follows. Morpeth Stobhill – 193 children (19.22 per cent); Morpeth Kirkhill – 147 children (15.61 per cent); Morpeth North – 77 children (10.66 per cent).

Mr Lavery, chairman of the Labour Party, said: “Sadly this report does not surprise me. The stories I hear from constituents of day-to-day suffering and struggle have increased year-on-year since the Tories took power in 2010.

“The figures tell only part of the story as areas right across my constituency have more than half of local residents having their lives marred by poverty.

“I have nothing but admiration and support for local charities and organisations trying to intervene, but the scourge of poverty will not be eradicated whilst this Conservative Government is in power and their Victorian attitude toward the most vulnerable in our society continues.”

The Herald contacted Berwick-upon-Tweed Conservative MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan for comment, but did not receive one before going to publication.