MORE than 8,000 Sunderland children are living in severe poverty, according to new research.
Shocking figures released by Save The Children show that 19 per cent of the city’s youngsters are in desperately struggling families.
Report author Graham Whitham warned that Wearside’s poorest children are in danger of being “left behind”.
He said: “The main problem with places like Sunderland is that it already has a massive problem with child poverty.
“More and more parents are missing out on essentials for their children like food, clothing and heating in the winter.”
Save the Children defines severe poverty as:
•Families living in a household with an income of below 50 per cent of the average, after housing costs
•Where both adults and children lack at least one basic necessity
•Where either adults or children or both groups lack at least two basic necessities.
Mr Whitman said: “In the North East, in areas like Sunderland, unemployment has gone up.
“It has continued to go up since the country first went into recession and this is having a big increase in child poverty.
“It is expected that child poverty will rise nationally by 400,000 and the danger is that places like Sunderland will get left behind and a lot of this increase will be felt there.
“In the South East they are showing signs of recovery and jobs are increasing, but that’s not the case in Sunderland.”
He added that the solution to tackle severe child poverty was with the creation of more jobs.
“Unless more is done to create secure jobs for parents this problem will just grow.”
Coun Pat Smith, Sunderland City Council cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We recognise that child poverty is an issue which affects the whole of the UK, including Sunderland, and to that end we published our Child and Family Poverty Strategy in 2011.
“The strategy sets out our vision to ensure that all city council services and local partners are working collectively to do everything possible to reduce child and family poverty in Sunderland, mitigate its effects in the city, and ensure that today’s children don’t become the parents of poor children in 2025.
“Our approach has always been to support the poorest and most needy families by working in partnership to break the cycle of poverty.
“We are currently working on an up-to-date needs analysis which will be used as the basis of prioritising our actions for the coming year.
“This approach will consider primarily the economic factors around child poverty, such as parental income, household costs and welfare dependency but will also look at more indirect factors such as education, training and skills, job availability, childcare, ability to manage income, emotional and physical health, housing and teenage pregnancy amongst others.”
Paul Tweddle - a director of Kidsmatta, a charity that works with children from deprived backgrounds – said the figures did not shock him.
“If anything I would say there is more than that living in poverty,” he said.
“There’s a lot of hidden statistics and it’s an area that needs to be addressed.
“The key is to educate these families. I’m not just talking about at school, but giving these families learning skills that they don’t seem to have.
“We need to get people into work in a different way, because the way at the minute seems to be hindering rather than helping.”