Action needed to fight child poverty - Sheffield scheme manager says as figures revealed

NEWS: News.
NEWS: News.

More robust action is needed to tackle rising child poverty in Sheffield and Rotherham, according to the manager of a local scheme.

Jack Scott, of Home-Start Sheffield, spoke as a debate over official figures rages.

Data from the Department of Work and Pensions, released today, said 2.3m children were classed as being in poverty - almost one in six, but the same as in 2012-2013.

A child is defined as being in poverty when living in a household with an income below 60 per cent of the UK’s average - however the Conservative Government wants to change the way it is measured.

Mr Scott, also a Sheffield Labour councillor, said figures from the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies suggested the number of children living in poverty had risen from 2.3m in 2013 to 2.6m in 2014.

He added: “Locally, we’re seeing a large rise for our support services, as well as an increase in demand for foodbanks, crisis payments and debt advice and families . Too many parents are simply not eating so their children can have a meal instead.”

Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “With child poverty expected to rise by nearly a third in the decade to 2020 as a result of its policies, its clear the Government’s approach is failing.”

It has been reported that ministers also want to repeal a legally binding child poverty target amid fears that increased deprivation caused by welfare cuts could leave policies open to legal challenge.

Sheffield Hallam and Liberal Democrat MP Nick Clegg has also said that the Conservative plans to redefine child poverty amounted to ‘airbrushing the effects’ of their own policies. Mr Clegg, who was Deputy Prime Minister in the former coalition Government, said it was ‘not acceptable to change the goalposts to suit your own narrow ends.’

Separate data in a report to Sheffield health bosses this month said that more than 25,000 children in the city -almost a third - live in poverty.