Plea to work together to tackle Hartlepool's growing child poverty trap

Council chiefs stressed it will take everyone working together across Hartlepool to make “huge” changes to help tackle child poverty.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 5:49 pm
Cllr Rob Cook, the chair of Hartlepool Borough Council's audit and governance committee.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s audit and governance committee has heard how child poverty in the town rose by 10.4% from 2014-15 to 2019-20, the eighth highest increase nationally over that time.

Research from experts estimated 37.8% of children in Hartlepool were living in poverty in 2019-20.

But officers added it varies across the town, with some areas as low as 11% and as high as “48 to 50%”.

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Penny Thompson, council head of housing, hardship and welfare services, added 75% of children who are currently living in poverty do so in a house where someone works.

She stressed organisations in the town are working hard on the issue and called on everyone to come together to help tackle it.

She said: “There’s some great stuff happening, don’t think that there isn’t.

“What I’m looking for is what actually turns the curve, so that what we’re doing not only stops it going up but helps it stay where it is and starts to bring it down.

“What turns the curve is huge systematic change and behavioural change.”

She added 10,503 families are on Universal Credit in Hartlepool at the moment.

Councillor Rob Cook, the chair of the committee, said it “really upsets him” that generations of children are being born into poverty and he hopes their year-long investigation into the issue can make a difference.

He said: “I just hope that we, at the end of the day, do come up with some concrete reasonable recommendations that can be put into practice.”