Child poverty rates rise with 76,000 children living below the breadline in Manchester and Salford

Reporter: Alice Richardson
Date published: 16 October 2020

The number of children living in poverty across the region has gone up.

Now, around a third of all children across the North West are living below the breadline, according to new figures from Loughborough University commissioned by the End Child Poverty coalition.

The research has shown child poverty rates have gone up in all but one of Greater Manchester’s boroughs too, with four of the North West’s top 10 increases by area for child poverty were seen in the city-region’s boroughs.

In Oldham, the rate has risen by 8.1pc in the last four years, from 31.8pc of the borough’s children living in poverty in 2014 to 39.9pc now.

For Manchester, the rate has risen by seven per cent from 33.6pc to 40.6pc.

In Bolton, this year 6.3pc more children are living in poverty than were four years ago, going from 32.7pc to 39pc.

Rochdale has seen a 5.3pc increase, now with 37.7pc and Tameside saw a 3.4pc rise, with 34.8pc of its children now living in poverty.

Bury experienced a 2.9pc rise so more than a third, 33.8pc, of its children are now under the breadline.

Salford saw a 2.3pc increase, so 34.8 pc of its children are now in poverty and Wigan saw a 1.7pc increase to 30.8pc.

Stockport only saw a 0.2pc increase, but 25.9pc of its children are still below the breadline.

And in Trafford, the only borough to buck the rising trend, there was a 0.9pc reduction in child poverty rates, but child poverty is still an issue with 23.1pc of children affected.

One Manchester charity said the problem of child poverty has never been solved by consecutive governments for generations.

Des Lynch, of Wood Street Mission in Manchester city centre which provides help and support to struggling families and individuals, said: “In Manchester and Salford, child poverty has never gone away. We’re 151 years old and we’ve been dealing with it in all of that time.

“It’s a subject that has never been tackled by any government, let alone the one we have at the moment.

“The issue comes up in manifestos but then is dispatched into the background.

“While Manchester and Salford outwardly look like affluent areas, if you walk 20 minutes from city centre in any direction, you’ll hit poverty stricken areas.

"And that’s only going to get worse in the coming months and years.”

Des explained that the problem is hitting those who class as ‘the working poor’ the hardest, but people aren’t coming forward for help because of COVID.

He said: “People are too scared to access help, they’re sticking to the rules, no matter what is sometimes said out there, they’re trying their best and they don’t know what to do. 

“But the poor housing rates, the poor quality of housing in Manchester and Salford, that’s been a problem for some 40 years with housing costs increasing.

“We haven’t been building enough social housing and what we are building isn’t the touching the sides.

“Giving developers permission to build is all well and good, but with the small percentage of social housing required, quite frankly it’s negligible.

“And the knock-on effect that has on children, it’s appalling, we should not be bringing children up in these environments.”

Wood Street Mission runs a uniform and book sourcing project to support children in their education to try to give them ‘a level playing field’.

Des said the Mission’s figures last year showed there were around 76,000 children across the Manchester and Salford living in poverty, and they’re doing all they can to help them, but the charity is struggling too.

He said: “We just don’t have the resources, poverty’s on a massive scale and any help we can get is welcome, we need the public’s help.

“We’re struggling like all charities, cash donations are down and the situation is ever changing on a day to day basis.”
The charity is especially calling for used toy donations so it can continue its Christmas project, and to make the festive period ‘an extra special time’ for the children it supports – more so this year than any other, after what has been a very tough time for everyone.

Thomas Lawson, chief executive of anti-poverty charity Turn2us, added: “In 2001, our government set a target to end child poverty by 2020, yet here we are reporting once again that it is rising.

“Low wages, soaring rents and the stubbornly high cost of living is pulling families into poverty and drying up the opportunities of so many young people.

“If the government truly believes in compassion and justice, ministers must first admit the problem then fully commit to solving it.”

A spokesperson for the government’s Department for Work and Pensions said: “There are 100,000 fewer children living in absolute poverty than in 2009/10 and making sure every child gets the best start in life is central to our efforts to level up opportunity across the country.

“We have already taken significant steps to do this by raising the living wage, ending the benefit freeze and injecting more than £9.3 billion into the welfare system to help those in most need.”

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