NEARLY one in five children in Rugby were living in poverty in 2020-21, according to new figures from a charity.
An online data tool launched by Action for Children shows nearly 4,000 children in the constituency lived in households struggling to afford the essentials or enjoy a decent standard of living.
Across Warwickshire, over 9,300 food bank parcels for children were distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust network in 2021-22 – more than doubling since 2015-16.
And the charity estimates that 6,100 children in Rugby would be lifted out of poverty if the government increased child payments by £15 a week and abolished the benefit cap.
The chair of Rugby charity Hope4, which runs Rugby Foodbank and the Hope Centre, said she was concerned by the findings.
Diana Mansell said: “We need to take this seriously at all levels of society. We too have seen a consistent year-on-year increase in the number of families accessing our services for the very basics to provide food for their children.
“Strong evidence shows that for children to preform well at school and achieve their full potential they need good nutrition at every meal of the day – in term time and in the holidays.
“We need to invest in our future now, and providing the food that children need is an important part of this.’
Action for Children is calling for benefit levels to keep pace with prices and living standards, an independent review of the childcare system, and changes to childcare support available through Universal Credit to help more parents to return to work.
Rugby MP Mark Pawsey said the Government had taken action to support the most vulnerable during the cost-of-living crisis, including the Energy Price Guarantee which he said had ‘protected families from the dramatic rise in energy bills’, and targeted support through the Household Support Fund.
He added: “It is clear that the challenges we face will continue which is why I welcome that the Chancellor will increase benefits by 10.1 per cent for 2023/24, in line with inflation.
“The average uplift for households receiving Universal Credit will be around £600.
“I also note from the Trussell Trust’s own figures that the number of food parcels distributed last year was significantly below the peak in the 2020/21 – which was exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic.
“The most vital thing to help families struggling with the cost of living is to bring inflation down and the Government is focused on achieving this.”
Director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, Imran Hussain, said: “Across Warwickshire too many children are facing the cruel realities of poverty, and it’s set to get worse, with falling living standards expected to push many more children into poverty and hardship in the coming years.
“For too many families, the amounts they receive through Universal Credit are just not enough to live on.
“By investing in our social security system, we can protect children living in households receiving Universal Credit in Warwickshire, and those whose childhoods will depend on it in the future.”
Visit www.actionforchildren.uk/childhardship to use the Action for Children online data tool.