A few weeks ago, the Campaign to End Child Poverty published their Child Poverty Map of the UK, along with spreadsheets for child poverty levels in every local authority ward in the UK (North East figures can be found here). The figures were obtained using HMRC data and are for mid 2011. A note on the method is available as an appendix to the report. This post takes a quick look at some of the interesting figures for the North East region.
Before we begin on the stats and charts, the Introduction to the report is worth taking a quick look at. It notes that:
Between 1998 and 2010, the number of children living in poverty was reduced by 900,000. The task that the new government has accepted is to continue this progress. If a similar reduction was made between 2010 and 2020, child poverty would be at its lowest point for 40 years.
However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has forecast that present policies will cause a further rise in child poverty. Far from it being eradicated by 2020, on the coalition’s present policies it will have returned to close to its peak in the 1990s, wiping out the progress that has been made.
It goes on to say:
While it is fully accepted that the nation now faces incredible challenges reducing the deficit, this cannot excuse the regressive nature of the path the coalition has chosen. It is a political choice whether the cost of balancing the budget falls most heavily on the poorest or the wealthiest.
The picture in the North East
There are, according to the report, 100 wards in the whole of the UK where the majority of children live in poverty. Twelve of these are in the North East.
% children in poverty
|North Ormesby & Brambles Farm||52|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||Byker||52|
|Redcar & Cleveland||Grangetown||60|
|Stockton||Stockton Town Centre||51|
No wards increased to above the 50% threshold from the previous report and only one (Elswick, in Newcastle) fell below the 50% threshold from last year.
As one might expect, most Local Authority areas showed not much change from the previous report, a year earlier. However, Newcastle City Council, as can be seen from the chart below, bucked this trend and showed a number of reductions, especially in wards with high levels of poverty, which is particularly interesting. Whilst most of the wards in the city showed minor movements between 1% and -1%, the three wards with the highest levels of child poverty in 2010 (Byker, Walker and Westgate) showed reductions of 4%, 3% and 4% respectively.
Distribution of child poverty
Across the region, child poverty, as one might expect, is fairly evenly spread with Northumberland being the only LA area that falls below the national average of 20.9% Newcastle and Middlesbrough have the highest levels of child poverty in the region and Middlesbrough, with 34% of children living in poverty, is one of the 20 highest LA area in the UK.
Within LA areas, the distribution of child poverty can look remarkably different. Using Stockton and Sunderland as examples here, we can see that in Stockton, the difference between certain wards is striking. Eleven wards have child poverty levels of 11% or below and the remaining thirteen wards have CP levels of 23% or more, with CP levels in nine of these wards at over 30%. No wards have levels of CP between 11% and 23%
In Sunderland, however, with the exception of Fulwell, every ward has child poverty levels over 14% with poverty being far more evenly distributed across the area. This obviously have implications for the delivery of local services for dealing with child poverty and, where poverty is more widespread as in Sunderland’s case, it potentially raises questions about the effectiveness of targetting services at the most vulnerable if thery are spread geographically across the local authority area.
In 2009, one of the predessors of the North East Child Poverty Commission funded a report by Sir Jonathan Bradshaw which looked at the ‘prevalence, characteristics and distribution’ of child poverty in the North East in more detail. The report can be accessed here
If anyone would like to discuss the North East’s figures in more detail, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly.