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Labour councillor describes child poverty figures for South Suffolk as 'one of the greatest scandals of our time'

Labour councillor Jack Abbott. (11134050)
Labour councillor Jack Abbott. (11134050)

More than a quarter of all south Suffolk children have been living in poverty, according to new figures which have been described by a Labour councillor as “one of the greatest scandals of our time”.

Data published by the End Child Poverty campaign indicates 5,352 children living within the South Suffolk parliamentary constituency – an area including Sudbury, Great Cornard and Hadleigh – were growing up in poverty, after housing costs, between 2017 and 2018.

This equates to 26 per cent of the child population in the area.

Across the entirety of Suffolk, this figure rises to almost 50,000 youngsters in poverty.

Suffolk county councillor Jack Abbott, Labour spokesman for children’s services, education and skills, called the numbers “truly shocking” and argued the effects of austerity on families over the last nine years were to blame.

“It is intolerable that children and families should continue to suffer the toxic cocktail of deep and relentless cuts, rising living costs and stagnant wages,” said Cllr Abbott.

“With more than two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families, it is clear that work alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty. This must not be allowed to become the new normal.

“No child should be growing up in poverty in 21st century Britain, so we desperately need MPs in Suffolk and across the country to wake up to this crisis and take immediate action.”

In response, Conservative MP for South Suffolk James Cartlidge acknowledged there were “pockets of deprivation” in his constituency, stating they had felt the impact of spending cuts forced by the deficit the Government inherited from Labour in 2010.

But he claimed rising wages and falling unemployment nationally showed the “picture is actually far more positive”.

“Of course, what matters is dealing with the causes of poverty so that families can break out of the benefits trap altogether,” said Mr Cartlidge.

“Historically, one of the biggest drivers of child poverty has been living in a workless household and now that measure is at a record low, on the back of the lowest unemployment in the UK since 1974.

“As a result, 665,000 fewer children will grow up in workless households, with all the benefit of having a role model that results.”

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