Today I held a debate in Parliament to shine a light on child poverty in Greater Manchester.
Greater Manchester suffers from one of the highest rates of child poverty, with around 250,000 children thought to be living in poverty. The alarming increase in child poverty rates not just in Manchester, but across the country is a serious failure by this Tories to safeguard our children and provide them with the best start in life.
Child poverty should not exist in one of the wealthiest nations in the world and yet, over half of all children living in Manchester Gorton are living in poverty. It represents the sheer neglect by this Conservative Government and its predecessors who have since 2010, sought to make matters worse through repeated acts of negligence such as repealing the Child Poverty Act in 2016 and introducing the two-child benefit cap in 2017.
The increase of child poverty rates in Manchester is having a detrimental effect on the overall health and wellbeing of our city. Men and women in Manchester live for 75.7 years and 79.7 years respectively, compared to 79.5 years for men and 83.1 years for women on average in England and alarmingly, the highest rates of child poverty are found amongst ethnic minority communities.
As the Tories continue to display their contempt for seriously reducing child poverty, I am proud to see Labour-led authorities in Manchester do their best to cushion our youth from the harsh cruelties of this Tory Government. Manchester City Council and Mayor Andy Burnham have introduced an array of measures to help out the most vulnerable such as distributing £55,000 worth of cash and household goods through the Welfare Provision Scheme to those suffering financial hardship and the launch of the Mayors Food Poverty Action Plan in 2019.
But there is only so much we can do at a local level without ambition and investment from central government. The last Labour Government pledged to end child poverty in 1999, and it followed with two million children and pensioners being lifted out of poverty. Labour has always prioritised tackling poverty, and Labour in government will deliver transformative policies such as the New Deal for Working People to do so.
I hope this debate will shine a light on child poverty in Manchester and encourages the Government to commit to taking this pertinent matter seriously. British children deserve better.