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Figures show thousands of Lincolnshire children are living in poverty as campaigners call for change





Almost one in three children are living in poverty in this area as shocking new figures spell out the stark challenge facing our hard-up families.

The level of child poverty in the South Holland and the Deepings constituency stands at 32% — higher than the national average of 30% — according to figures compiled Loughborough University for the End Child Poverty Coalition.

That poverty figure equates to 7,256 in the 2022/23 financial year compared with the 5,199 in eight years before that.

Child poverty has risen over recent years as families face big struggles. Photo: shironosov/istock
Child poverty has risen over recent years as families face big struggles. Photo: shironosov/istock

Many families are being pushed into desperate financial circumstances — with Spalding and Holbeach foodbanks recently reporting a surge in demand for help.

Plus staff at Spalding St Paul’s Primary School have also confirmed that they have referred families recently to get such support.

A spokesman for the coalition is calling for an end to the two-child benefit cap, which it says could help one in ten families in this area. Neither of two main parties wants to lift this

She said: “Our stats show that child poverty in South Holland and The Deepings is at 32%. Any level of child poverty is always shocking, but this is above the national average of 30%. Poverty is sometimes viewed as something children experience in inner-cities, but these figures show that child poverty is felt by families across the country.

“Child poverty is caused by a lack of money, both through benefit payments, work – or most likely a combination of both. So low wages, and low benefit payments can play a part in these figures. But we also know that government policies can cause higher levels of child poverty. There is a strong positive correlation between the two-child limit to benefit payments and the level of child poverty in an area. So for example in this constituency, 10% of all children live in a family whose benefit payments are reduced as a result of the two-child limit to benefit payments.

“Child poverty is a political choice. We are asking all candidates ahead of the election to commit to raising children out of poverty by scrapping the two-child limit to benefit payment. This would have a huge impact in your area, 10% of all children would then be living in a family that would have more income to meet their needs. Across the country we know that if scrapped, this policy would immediately lift 300,000 children out of poverty.

“We cannot continue like this, the needs of children and the families that support them should be top priority in this election.”

Schools are often at the frontline of the effort to help people in need.

A spokesperson for Spalding St Paul’s Primary School said: “We have referred over 10 families recently to the local food bank. We try to support as much as we can. The school also offers bagels/toast to every child each morning, so that they can start their day ready to learn.”

The NHS also has a role to play in this situation.

A spokesman for Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board said: “Poverty has always affected people’s health and we have a growing awareness of wider societal factors and the significant role that they play in people’s health outcomes. With the introduction of new roles in surgeries, such as social prescribers, surgeries may well be doing more to link people to dedicated services and support available locally for these wider issues as part of trying to overcome some of the health inequalities associated with poverty.”

The national challenges surrounding poverty were highlighted in a recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which found that schools and GP surgeries were acting as emergency food banks, welfare advisers and housing support.

Andy Fox, assistant director for public health for Lincolnshire, said the Citizen Advice Bureau is seeing more people seeking support with ‘increasingly complex’ cases.

He said: “Andy Fox, assistant director for public health, said: “Like many places in the UK, Lincolnshire is a diverse county with areas of prosperity but also with areas where many people have far lower incomes than the national average, or cannot access work. We know that for everyone, challenges around the cost-of-living have been significant in recent years, and nationally, as this report highlights, levels of poverty have increased.

“Although we don’t have much of this information used in the report at a local level we would expect to see broadly the same patterns in Lincolnshire. We do know many services in Lincolnshire are seeing increased demand - for example, Citizens Advice is seeing more people seeking support and these cases are increasingly complex.

“To help meet these needs, the county council has agreed to continue to fund Citizens Advice Lincolnshire and other support for households under pressure. These include the Household Support Fund (around half of which has been targeted at families with children entitled to free school meals), the Holiday Activities Fund, the Wellbeing Service and Housing Related Support service, Connect to Support Lincolnshire, and pupil support staff in schools.

“System partners, including the voluntary and community sector, the NHS, the Department of Work and Pensions and district councils also provide foodbanks, social prescribing, advice and guidance, and help deliver the Household Support Fund and other forms of financial support such as energy vouchers. The Towns Fund and Levelling Up programmes are also progressing in targeted areas where successful bids for funding have been secured.”

Here are the latest available child poverty figures for other constituencies:

- Boston: 9,199

- Grantham and Stamford: 6,932

- Lincoln: 7,984

- Louth and Horncastle: 6,338

- Gainsborough: 8,722

- Rutland and Melton: 4,920

This year’s election has seen constituencies rebadged as Grantham and Bourne and Rutland and Stamford.

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