THOUSANDS of children in Yorkshire are being driven into poverty by the recession with shocking new research revealing around one-third regularly go hungry.
A major new report from charity Save the Children has revealed 32 per cent – around 300,000 – of children in the region are now living in poverty, regularly missing hot meals or having parents forfeit their food to feed them.
The study, It Shouldn’t Happen Here, highlights children’s experiences living in recession-hit Britain and the extent to which poverty is blighting young lives.
It also found families are unable to afford warm coats and new shoes for their children and are suffering “enormous emotional strain”.
Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s chief executive, said the situation was so severe the charity was launching a national appeal.
“No child should see their parent going hungry or start the new term without a warm coat and with holes in their shoes,” he said. “Poverty is tearing families apart, with parents buckling under the pressure of mounting bills and children seeing their parents argue more about money.
“That’s why for the first time in our history we are launching a UK appeal. We need to help poor families survive the recession.”
The report reveals that one in eight of the poorest children in the UK go without at least one hot meal a day and one in 10 poorest parents have cut back on food for them to make sure their children have enough to eat.
The charity is calling for the Government to encourage more employers to pay the living wage, so parents can earn enough to lift their children out of poverty, to strengthen the new welfare system – Universal Credit – by allowing working parents to keep more of their earnings before benefits are withdrawn and to help parents afford to work by providing extra child care support so 80 per cent of costs are covered.
Mr Forsyth said: “Given that most children living in poverty have at least one parent in work, it is appalling that those parents can’t earn enough to give themselves and their kids a decent life.
“All working parents should be able to earn enough to meet the basic needs of their children.”
In a snapshot of family life under pressure, the survey finds that children worry about their family not having enough money, with more than half of those living in poverty saying the lack of cash made their parents unhappy or stressed. Almost a quarter of the poorest parents say they are arguing more or snap at their children because of their money troubles.
Michael Dugher, MP for Barnsley East and Labour Shadow Cabinet Minister without portfolio, slammed the Government for failing families in poverty.
“It’s shocking that so many children in Yorkshire and the Humber are living in poverty,” he said. “Labour cut child poverty by 900,000, but the Tory-led Government’s own estimates predict that it is set to increase again.
“George Osborne’s last Budget cut taxes for millionaires, but found nothing new to fight child poverty.”
However the Government hit back, claiming they were committed to eradicating child poverty.
A spokeswoman said: “The Government remains committed to eradicating child poverty, but we want to take a new approach by tackling the root causes including worklessness, educational failure and family breakdown.”