Fears over child poverty in Portsmouth and Havant

Fears over child poverty in Portsmouth and Havant

Fears over child poverty in Portsmouth and Havant

Fears over how the pandemic might affect the poorest children in Portsmouth and Havant have been raised.

This follows a study, which showed that increasing numbers of young people in Portsmouth and Havant are living in poverty.

Government data compiled by Loughborough University and the charity End Child Poverty  showed that 20.3% of children in Portsmouth who were living in poverty in 2018, compared to 15.8% in 2014.

Similarly, in Havant child poverty levels rose from 13.8% in 2014 to 18.6% in 2018.

Portsmouth South MP and councillor for a ward with high levels of poverty, Stephen Morgan, described the trend as ‘worrying.’ He added:

“After the four-year freeze of working-age benefits, poverty has increased, and food bank use has soared. It is even more worrying that these statistics do not reflect the recent impacts of Covid-19.

“Government must urgently get to grips with the flood of new Universal Credit claims and provide financial support for all people who need it if it is to break this mould of failure.

“Poverty is not inevitable. Every child deserves an opportunity to do well in life. Any family can fall on hard times and find it difficult to make ends meet. It is government’s duty to ensure that effective support networks exist.”

Councillor Suzy Horton, Portsmouth’s children and families boss, agreed. saying:

“This paints a worrying picture that is no surprise to us who work directly with families in the city.

“The government’s decision to freeze benefits for the poorest families has led to unnecessary suffering for many children over the last few years.

“The council, together with the voluntary and community centre, play our part in helping families via support and guidance and having the highest aspirations for our children in school.

“The recent weeks have demonstrated clearly that there is a stark contrast of lockdown experience and there is much more to do to minimise a potentially widening gap of disadvantage.

“The close working of social workers and schools has been strengthened during this time and has achieved a lot to support these families.”

Havant MP Alan Mak explained some of the measures in place to help children during the pandemic.

He said that local employer Fat Face provide 100,000 children’s breakfasts across Havant and beyond, and alleged that during the coronavirus outbreak, the government has continued to support children and their families, including through wage subsidies, food vouchers and laptops for online learning.

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