Child poverty

Bishop hits out at 'two-child' benefits cap

BBC Tees

The Bishop of Durham has hit out at a government policy which caps benefits to poorer families who have more than two children.

The so-called two-child limit restricts the child element in Universal Credit and tax credits to the first two children.

New research by the Church of England and the Child Poverty Action Group documents the "toll" the policy is taking on family life in low-income households.

Rt Rev Paul Butler

The Rt Rev Paul Butler (pictured) said: "We believe that children are a blessing, not a burden, and that a third or fourth child is no less precious than the first or second.

"The government's two-child limit goes against this fundamental principle and is pushing many families and children into poverty.

"It is simply not right that some children get support and others don't. "The two-child limit must be lifted as part of a concerted effort to reverse the rise in child poverty."

A government spokesman said: "This policy helps to ensure fairness by asking parents receiving benefits to face the same financial choices as those in work.

"Tackling poverty remains a priority - we're spending £95bn a year on welfare and providing free school meals to more than a million children."

Health and fitness boost for children in poverty

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Daniel Holland

Thousands of schoolchildren from some of the poorest homes in Newcastle are being given free meals and activities during the summer holidays.

The Best Summer Ever programme is being funded by Newcastle City Council to the tune of £1.1m.

About 70 different projects across Newcastle are taking part, offering a variety of activities, sporting events, arts and crafts, dance, performance and healthy eating.

It is estimated that across Newcastle 26,723 young people live in poverty, with 10,344 accessing free school meals.

Councillor Clare Penny-Evans, the council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “I hope everyone, from all communities and backgrounds, will really get on board and be a part of Newcastle’s Best Summer Ever and enjoy this fantastic opportunity.”

Surrey borough among worst for food poverty

Rebecca Curley

Local Democracy Reporter

A task group looking into food poverty has highlighted the “extreme” measures parents go through to feed their children.

Guildford has four of the most deprived neighbourhoods in England.

In three of those, over a quarter of the children are considered to be living in poverty.

The “eye-opening” report collected evidence showing that children are suffering from hunger during the school holidays, mums are skipping meals to feed their little ones, and some parents are choosing to pay for food instead of heating their homes.

Almost 2,000 food parcels were distributed to households in 2017-18 by local food banks.

The council was criticized for not spending all of the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) it is entitled to from the government, to help tenants in social or private housing.

Labour councillor Angela Gunning said: “The existence of hidden poverty in an affluent borough was an eye-opener.”

She added that people feel great shame in using food banks, and often travel to other boroughs to seek help, to avoid being seen by people they knew.

The report was hailed as “opening the door” to Guildford Borough Council starting work on a local solution.