Picture a school classroom of thirty pupils in Leicester. Now imagine that 12 out of those thirty pupils are living in poverty. That is the shocking reality we are facing today.
Due to tax and benefit decisions made since 2010, the number of children living in poverty has increased substantially.
We know all too well that families experience poverty for many reasons; being ‘in work’ does not prevent a family from experiencing hardship.
According to the End Child Poverty Coalition (2017), Leicester is 8th in the table of local authorities with the highest rates of child poverty across the UK and the percentage of children in poverty after housing costs are:
- 41% in Leicester
- 25% in Northampton and Corby
Whilst Leicestershire is one of the richest counties in the UK, it also has one of the highest poverty rates in the country. Leicester ranks 21st most deprived local authority of 326 local authority districts in England (Counting the cost of Poverty – 2016, Joseph Rowntree Foundation).
Since the welfare reforms of April 2013 more and more people are struggling to provide their families with the basic day-to-day necessities – many of these are ‘in work’ poverty.
The introduction of a benefit cap, the bedroom tax and the requirement that claimants must now make a contribution to their Council Tax bill means that many household budgets are under severe pressure. The abolition of the discretionary elements of the Social Fund have removed a valuable source of financial support for those reliant. The Universal Credit is meaning vulnerable people are facing new challenges. With household budgets under so much strain, people cannot afford to replace larger items such as cookers, fridges and beds.
Poverty isn’t caused one one thing; a lack of skills, unemployment, insecure jobs and low wages, family problems and breakdowns, high costs (in particular housing costs), and an ineffective benefits system are all key issues to be addressed for long term change.
The need is great, but thanks to you, we are able to help struggling individuals and families by providing the basic items needed to have a decent standard of living.