A SENIOR politician is calling for ‘urgent action’ to address a ‘critical situation’ as latest figures reveal a third of children in four areas of East Lancashire are living in poverty.
MP Kate Hollern voiced her concerns after Government figures show 36.5 per cent of children in Blackburn with Darwen were facing poverty at the end of 2020.
Pendle has the highest percentage of low-income families - 37.3 per cent - while in Hyndburn and Burnley figures show a third of children are on the poverty line, both 33.1 per cent.
Mrs Hollern said: “It is really shocking that so many children are living in poverty and more needs to be done about levelling up and more investment in quality jobs for all areas. The UK is one of the most unequal countries in Europe for this. The Government needs to bring more opportunities for parents in Lancashire and Blackburn.
"I was a child growing up in poverty and each child should be treated equally to meet their aspirations and that is why we need investment. Urgent action has to be taken as this is a critical situation. Children shouldn't be living in poverty.”
It comes after the Lancashire Telegraph reported last year the same four areas were among the worst areas for poverty and the situation has not improved amid the pandemic.
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “It is very concerning and underlines the need for recovery from the pandemic and shows we need to make efforts to address the poverty. The Government has made progress with the living wage but we need to do a lot more to create more employers and rise out of the challenge that the pandemic is posing.”
Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham added: “This shows why I came into politics as Burnley has been left behind. The last 12 months have been difficult but the Government has been supporting people's income in the pandemic and now I want to drive up growth and work in Burnley so we can pull people out of poverty. This is exactly why Burnley and other areas have been identified as priority for levelling up funding.”
Hyndburn MP Sara Britcliffe added: “This is why Hyndburn is on the list for priority areas for levelling up funding. It has been a challenging 12 months. I have been working with community organisations to support families in the pandemic.”
The latest figures show that eight of the top 20 worst level areas were in the North West of England while Middlesbrough (39 per cent) had the highest proportion of children aged under 16 in low-income families.
In the financial year ending 2020, there were 2.99 million children living in families with low incomes.