Child poverty in West Yorkshire is "heartbreaking," new mayor Tracy Brabin says

The new mayor of West Yorkshire has admitted the levels of child poverty across the region are “heartbreaking” after new figures showed a five-year rise.

The figures, which were released on Wednesday from the End Child Poverty coalition and Action for Children, showed more than a third of children in Yorkshire and the Humber are now living in poverty. Stock image: Getty

Tracy Brabin who was elected as the first elected female mayor earlier this month, has pledged to embark on a bid to bolster salaries across West Yorkshire in an attempt to drive down poverty.

The figures, which were released on Wednesday from the End Child Poverty coalition and Action for Children, showed more than a third of children in Yorkshire and the Humber are now living in poverty.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

There has been an increase of 5.8 per cent in poverty levels over the past five years with every local authority reporting a rise. Leeds and Bradford are seeing the highest levels in the region when housing costs are taken into account.

Ms Brabin said: “It’s absolutely heartbreaking. As someone who grew up in a council flat eating free school meals, I know the value of that intervention. I go back to where I grew up and see those opportunities aren’t there.”

She has now called on businesses to sign up to a wage pledge that she will introduce in her first year in office.

Ms Brabin said: “Far too many people are living below the living wage and we can’t allow that to continue. I’m committed to a Fair Wage Charter.

“You give a pay rise to a nurse and the money stays in West Yorkshire. We need to make sure that people are paid proper wages.”

She criticised Conservative MPs who did not vote to enshrine free school meals during holidays in law in the autumn last year.

She said: “It can’t be right that MPs from this region who understand the nature of poverty voted not to give children a hot meal. It’s really important that MPs are held to account by the public.”

The vote fell at 321 to 261 votes to the Government, with Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney defying the whip to vote with Labour.

A Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting families most in need, spending billions more on welfare and planning a long-term route out of poverty by protecting jobs through furlough and helping people find new work through our Plan for Jobs.”