CHILD poverty is becoming the “new norm” campaigners warn, as shocking research shows thousands of children in Bury are living below the breadline. BRAD MARSHALL reports.

MORE than one in three children are living in poverty in Bury, according to startling new data.

The hardship, labelled the “new norm” by campaigners, is making children’s and families’ lives a “misery” and impeding youngsters’ health, education, work and life prospects, experts warn.

Sedgley is the most poverty-stricken ward in the borough, affecting over half of children in the area.

Tottington has the lowest rates of child poverty. However, over 19 per cent of the ward’s children are still living below the breadline in that area of Bury.

Councillor Alan Quinn, who represents Sedgley ward, said he was not surprised by the figures, adding: “This Government is responsible for introducing Dickensian, workhouse conditions in this country and it has abandoned working people.

“Austerity is a political choice and it is not working.”

He also said that child poverty is disproportionally affecting Sedgley’s orthodox Jewish community, reporting that the demographic experiences an unemployment rate five times the national average.

“This community is being hammered,” Cllr Quinn said.

Bury South MP Ivan Lewis described the child poverty rates in Sedgley as “extremely concerning”, slamming the Government, and said he hopes a new Prime Minister will prioritise fighting against child poverty.

He added: “The Government are pursuing policies which are failing to address the challenges faced by people in work on low incomes and cutting the benefits of sick and disabled people. Their universal credit policy has made the situation worse for those affected.

“Many view Sedgley as a relatively affluent community and yet these statistics reveal high levels of hidden poverty.

“ It is scandalous that the Government have no child poverty strategy at a time when this is needed more than ever before. This is a tragedy for children living in poverty but also the breeding ground for the intergenerational disadvantage which is deeply damaging to our society.”

The data comes from extensive research conducted by Loughborough University which found that more that half a million children in the North West are living in poverty.

The paper analysed UK child poverty rates from the 1990s to the present day, assessing figures on a constituency ward and local authority level.

Researchers found that during the late 90s and 2000s poverty rates had been steadily falling.

However by 2010 figures had begun to fluctuate and levels have been on an upward trajectory since 2016.

Greater Manchester Poverty Action has warned that the issue is rising “particularly rapidly” across the city region.

At the heart of this upsurge are cuts to benefits compounded by low paying jobs with insufficient hours, impacting on working families, GM Poverty Action says.

The charity’s director, Graham Whitman, said: “The increases in child poverty seen across the UK in recent years are largely the result of cuts to working age benefits. Parents have seen the value of tax credits, Child Benefit and other support cut in recent years.

“The figures also underline how seemingly positive employment figures – low unemployment and record employment levels – aren’t translating into reductions in poverty and improved living standards.

“Too many people are trapped in low paying jobs or unable to get sufficient hours to work their way out of poverty.”

The research further showed that poverty is rising fastest in areas where it is already highest, which campaigners say suggests inequality between areas is growing.

Anna Feuchtwang, chairman of the End Child Poverty coalition, said: “Growing up in poverty means growing up trapped. It restricts a child’s chances of doing well at school, of living a healthy and happy life, and of finding well paid work as adults. We urgently need Government to set a course of action that will free our children from the grip of poverty.”

Here is ward by ward breakdown of child poverty rates in Bury:

Sedgley — 50.4 per cent

East — 45.5 per cent

Radcliffe West — 42.3 per cent

Moorside — 40.8 per cent

Redvales — 40.4 per cent

Radcliffe East — 37.2 per cent

Besses — 32.4 per cent

Elton — 31.8 per cent

Radcliffe North — 28.3 per cent

St Mary’s — 26 per cent

Holyrood — 24.8 per cent

Unsworth — 24.5 per cent

Ramsbottom — 22.9 per cent

North Manor — 21.7 per cent

Pilkington Park — 21.4 per cent

Church — 20.9 per cent

Tottington — 19.2 per cent