One in five Wigan children is living in poverty

A fifth of children in Wigan were living in poverty during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.
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Child poverty charities warn the Government's response to the cost of living crisis risks reversing the fall in the number of children living below the breadline.

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Department for Work and Pensions data shows 11,311 children under 16 were living in families with low incomes in 2020-21 – 18.2 per cent of all youngsters in the area.

The pandemic hit many people in the pocketThe pandemic hit many people in the pocket
The pandemic hit many people in the pocket
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That was down from 19.7 per cent the year before, but more than the 16.1 per cent in 2014-15, when comparable figures were first published.

A family is defined as in low income if it earns less than 60 per cent of the national median household income before housing costs are considered.

Families are included if they have claimed child benefit alongside another means of support, such as universal credit, tax credits or housing benefit.

Different figures – which take housing costs into account – show 3.9m UK children lived in relative poverty in 2020-21.

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This was down from 4.3m the year before, but still above the 3.6m in 2010-11.

Child Poverty Action Group’s chief executive Alison Garnham said: "Many of the children who were lifted out of poverty by the £20 increase to universal credit have already been forced back over the brink by the Government’s actions.

"And as millions struggle with spiralling costs, we know the picture will worsen."

Of the children aged 0 to 15 in poverty in Wigan last year, 3,789 (34 per cent) were below five.

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There were also 2,363 people aged 16 to 19 in low income families.

Meanwhile, the majority of youngsters aged 0 to 19 – 60 per cent – were in working households.

The Department for Work and Pensions said the data should be treated with caution, especially when compared with previous years, due to changes in data collection during lockdowns.

A Government spokesman said the landscape is different now than during the pandemic and that filling the record number of vacancies is the best route out of poverty.

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He added that universal credit changes mean claimants in some working households are £1,000 better off on average, the minimum wage rose to £9.50 from April 1 and national insurance will be cut for more than 30m people from July.