As many as 4.2 million children live in poverty across the UK

As many as 4.2 million children are living in poverty across the UK according to 2019 government statistics. With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic causing many people to lose their jobs, poverty numbers are expected to increase, while families already at risk will likely fall further below the breadline.

This issue has become a national crisis with towns and cities across the country reporting alarming figures of children currently living in poverty. This has been felt the hardest by those located in the north of the country, which is arguably still feeling the force of the loss of industries, which were the heartbeat of these areas, during the latter stages of the 20th century. The generations since have still not recovered.

The city of Bradford, in Yorkshire, has felt the poverty crisis particularly hard with a new report finding that as many as 30% of children live in a home where at least one benefit is being claimed. This is double the England average of 15.3%. Families are regularly feeling the strain and it is seeing children become the biggest victims due to the domino effect it will create. Without the income, children will be more at risk of going hungry, lack the funding for educational resources, and eventually fall behind in gaining the same opportunities as others later in life. This has seen cries from local organisations to receive more government support to prevent the crisis from getting worse.

In Oldham, Greater Manchester, home to 100,000 people, one in three children live in absolute poverty with many families having to rely on food banks and the good deeds of others who provide them with free food and other resources to help survive. This issue has worsened due to the coronavirus with unemployment increasing considerably.

In West Lothian in Scotland, just outside Edinburgh, almost a quarter of children in the area are living in poverty according to the End Child Poverty coalition. Local MPs and charities have called for more support for families who are feeling the force of the pandemic and are asking the government to provide some much-needed funding to help address the poverty crisis in both Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Over the past few months, poverty has been at the forefront of the public agenda. This has seen much wider campaigns and support being seen from charities, celebrities, and the public finding ways to help in as many ways possible and end poverty for good. One of the most notable efforts has come from Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford, whose personal experiences with poverty have led him to face the issue head-on. This has seen him openly criticise the government’s handling of the crisis, including refusing to provide free school meals to children in desperate need.

His actions have so far seen huge reform with Rashford’s campaign raising more than £2.7 million to help people in poverty.