Yorkshire has highest level of child poverty in the country

Yorkshire has highest level of child poverty in country
Yorkshire has highest level of child poverty in country

Yorkshire has the highest level of child poverty in the country affecting almost one-in-four children, according to a damning new report.

It also warns that children from poorer homes do less well in school in Yorkshire and have worse job prospects than those elsewhere.

The findings are part of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s second annual state of the nation report published today.

It warns the UK is at risk of becoming a “permanently divided” nation with the poorest in society left behind.

The commission is predicting the country is set to see an unprecedented rise in child poverty over the next decade, amid the biting impact of welfare cuts and low pay.

Yorkshire is said to have the highest level of child poverty in the country affecting 23 per cent of children. Two thirds of pupils from poor homes in the region “do not achieve a good level of development”.

And almost half of 11-year-olds from deprived backgrounds in Yorkshire do not get to the standard of reading, writing and maths expected of the age group, according to the report.

The Commission, led by former Labour cabinet minister Alan Milburn, predicts 2020 will mark not the eradication of child poverty but the end of the first decade in recent history in which it increased.

“A decade of rising absolute poverty is unprecedented since records began in the 1960s,” the report says.

It makes a series of recommendations aimed at tackling this. The report calls for “bad parents” to be given classes to make sure their children get the best start in life,

The commission accuses politicians and educators of having been reluctant to “call out” poor parenting, despite this having a bigger impact on a child that wealth, class or schooling.

The report calls for the best teachers to be paid more to work in deprived areas, action to close the gap in GCSE results between rich and poor youngsters and for universities to admit 5,000 more students from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2020.

It also says that unpaid internships should be made illegal, and that the UK should become a living wage country by 2025.

The report warns that almost one in three children in Yorkshire who are eligible for free school meals “do not progress to a positive destination” after leaving school.

Yorkshire is said to have the second highest unemployment rate in the UK. The commission’s report also highlights major variations in the levels of poverty across Yorkshire. The proportion of children in low-income families varies from 8.3 per cent in Harrogate to 31.7 per cent in Hull.

It also highlights variations in the attainment of pupils from poorer homes in different parts of the county.

In Calderdale 37 per cent of pupils from deprived backgrounds do not reach the standard expected in the three Rs at the age of 11.

In Wakefield it is 53 per cent,

At GCSE 78.2 per cent of poor pupils in Barnsley fail to get five goodgrades, including English and maths, whereas in Kirklees this figure is 56.7 per cent.

The report shows that 13.6 per cent of children in Yorkshire live in “workless households” and more than one in ten people of working age have no qualifications.

The median hourly pay in the county is £10.59 per hour, nine per cent lower than the UK average.

Reacting to the report Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said child poverty was at its lowest for 30 years and that there are now 290,000 fewer children growing up in workless households.

“We would put at the heart of how we address this the importance of work,” said the spokesman. “It is through greater employment opportunities for the households in which children grow up that we can best address this issue.

“I would point to policies such as welfare reform and reform to reduce income tax bills through the personal allowance.”

But he added: “Do we need to keep doing more? Yes. We need to keep doing more in this respect.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he shared Mr Milburn’s “despair with the Conservatives” over blocking the introduction of “meaningful” new child poverty targets.

“It dismayed me then and it dismays me now that the Conservatives have basically decided to turn their back on child poverty,” he told his regular Westminster press conference.

“It says everything you need to about the new approach of the Conservative Party that, as George Osborne announced at his party conference, the tax cuts they are offering will all be paid for by the poor or by a significant deterioration in the public services on which more vulnerable people rely.

The Sheffield Hallam MP added: “Social care is a very good example, education. These are all areas that would be hit very hard by the Conservatives’ unfunded and unfair tax cuts.”

The report “makes a lot of powerful points” and “acknowledges that quite a lot has been done that will really provide huge benefits to future generations in terms of social mobility”, he added.