Bridget Phillipson Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South
No child in our country should grow up in poverty. It is totally avoidable, but continues to blight lives and deny opportunities to millions.
So last week’s figures showing a rise in child poverty are a damning indictment of the Tories’ failure to build a country that works for everyone.
For years Theresa May has denied the extent of child poverty in our country. In the face of mounting evidence, she’s insisted that Tory policies are lifting people out of poverty.
The release of new government statistics should set the record straight. They show that even by their preferred measure, 200,000 more children are in absolute poverty than the year before.
That’s hundreds of thousands of children who will miss out on things many of us may take for granted, from warm clothes in winter to regular hot meals.
The impact is clear: those affected are more likely to struggle at school, experience mental and physical health problems, and have fewer opportunities in later life.
To those who have witnessed the impact of Tory austerity since 2010, this sorry development isn’t a surprise.
For years I’ve warned that government policies are making life harder for the worst-off in society.
Rather than making work pay, the Tories have overseen a shocking rise in in-work poverty.
It is simply unacceptable that the majority of children in poverty – almost 3 million – come from working families.
No one should do a hard day’s work and still not have enough money to provide for their family – yet this sad state of affairs has become commonplace under the Tories.
Universal Credit, far from creating a fairer social security system, is likely to make matters much worse.
There is already plenty of evidence that it’s causing serious hardship, with people falling into debt due to late payments or rejected claims.
Without fixing the problems that have plagued the system from the offset, I fear that more children will be trapped in poverty, whether or not their parents are in work.
Rather than brushing off well-founded concerns about the increasing number of children in the grip of poverty, Theresa May should be righting this wrong.
Child poverty is a problem for all of us – we all lose out through the costs placed on wider society.
We shouldn’t be prepared to put up with it – especially when we know that government has the power to fix this burning injustice.
Read this on the Sunderland Echo here.