ALMOST a fifth of Sunderland children are living in poverty, according to a new report out today.
Charity Save the Children is calling on the Government to produce an emergency plan to tackle the problem, with 18 per cent of Sunderland youngsters currently living in the most “severe poverty” category.
The city came 47th in the country according to the research, with Manchester in the North West topping the poll with 27 per cent of children experiencing life below the poverty line. County Durham came 94th with a total of 13,000 children.
About 8,000 Sunderland children fall into the most severe poverty category, which includes those living in poor conditions or not being given enough food.
The news comes as thousands of public sector jobs are set to be cut as part of the Coalition Government’s plans to reduce the national debt.
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliot said: “This report should send a shot across the bows to the Conservative-led Government that measures such as cuts to Sure Start need to be rethought.”
Homeless charity Centrepoint, which was recently given approval to build a hostel in Dundas Street, Monkwearmouth, said the figures were cause for concern and could see a rise in young people without homes.
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Martin Gill, regional operations manager at Centrepoint, said: “The findings are extremely worrying. Centrepoint works with vulnerable and homeless young people in Sunderland between the ages of 16 and 25.
“Many have come to Centrepoint as a result of family breakdown and our concern is that rising unemployment will put an additional strain on families, which could lead to an increase in young people being made homeless.
“This would have a big impact on young people’s life chances, particularly in the current climate of high youth unemployment, as many lack the vital support and aspirations they need to move out of poverty.
“It is essential that support is provided for families at an early stage to avoid young people having to leave home too early and risking becoming homeless.”
According to Save the Children a single parent family with one child under the age of 14 in severe poverty is living on an income of less than £7,000 and a couple with two children under 14 is on less than £12,500.
Sally Copley, Save the Children’s head of UK policy said: “If the Government is to fulfil its commitments on child poverty, it must find a way of counting these children in greatest need.
“If these children are to have a future, we must acknowledge their desperate need and urgently target government help towards them.”