NEARLY a fifth of children in Stratford were living in poverty in 2020-21, according to figures from a UK children’s charity.
A new online data tool launched by Action for Children shows nearly 3,000 children in the constituency lived in households struggling to afford the essentials or enjoy a decent standard of living.
Across Warwickshire, over 9,300 food bank parcels for children were distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust network in 2021-22 – up by over 110 per cent from 2015-16.
And the charity estimates that 3,500 children in Stratford would be lifted out of poverty if the government increased child payments by £15 a week and abolished the benefit cap.
Director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, Imran Hussain, said: “Our new tool gives us an idea of the scale of the problem locally, even before the worst of the cost of living crisis hit and energy bills began to skyrocket last year.
“Child poverty scars childhoods and damages children’s life chances. Across Warwickshire too many children are facing its cruel realities. And it’s set to get worse, with falling living standards expected to push many more children into poverty and hardship in the coming years.
“For too many families, the amounts they receive through Universal Credit are just not enough to live on.
“By investing in our social security system, we can protect children living in households receiving Universal Credit in Warwickshire, and those whose childhoods will depend on it in the future.”
Action for Children said its analysis showed work was often not a route out of hardship for families where both parents or a single parent are already working full time, or have long-term sickness, disability or caring responsibilities.
The charity is calling for benefit levels to keep pace with prices and living standards and an independent review of the childcare system and how it is funded. It also wants to see changes to the childcare support available to families through Universal Credit to help more parents to return to work.
Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi has been approached for comment.
Visit www.actionforchildren.uk/childhardship to open the tool and see the reality of child poverty and hardship across the region.