Research shows 5,000 more East End children in poverty over six years

Free school meals for children at Poplar's Woolmore Primary.

Free school meals for children at Poplar's Woolmore Primary. - Credit: Rehan Jamil/stockshot

Another 5,000 children have gone into poverty in the East End compared to just six years ago, with numbers now reaching 35,800, new figures have revealed. 

Analysis by the End Child Poverty coalition pressure group shows a sharp rise in poverty across Britain since 2015, with half a million more people now living in households on the breadline. 

Statistics broken down by parliamentary constituencies shows youngsters on the poverty line in Poplar and Limehouse now reaching 18,600, shooting up by 3,100 compared to 2015. 

It was almost as bad in neighbouring Bethnal Green and Bow, with 17,200 children now facing poverty, adding another 2,000 on the 2015 level.  

Both constituencies are in the top six in the UK where high housing costs pushed more children into poverty and widened the gap in education with tougher barriers to achievement. 

Mayor John Biggs... "staggering increase in East End's child poverty." 

Mayor John Biggs... "staggering increase in East End's child poverty." - Credit: Rehan Jamil

“These figures are heartbreaking,” Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said. “This is a staggering increase with significant impact in areas like London with high housing costs.”  

He is backing the National Education Union's (NEU's) call for the government to help youngsters trapped in poverty get access to online education.  

National Education Union's Alex Kenny.. "teachers are seeing poverty gasp in the classroom."

National Education Union's Alex Kenny.. "teachers are seeing poverty gaps in the classroom." - Credit: Zoom

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Teachers are seeing barriers in the classroom faced by youngsters from the poorest homes worsened by the Covid crisis, according to the NEU's Tower Hamlets district secretary Alex Kenny.

He said: “This is something the government must address urgently. Talk of ‘levelling up’ is just rhetoric if it’s not matched with funding.” 

The town hall has been offering free school meals to all primary age children, but says it “can only do so much”.  

Deputy Mayor Asma Begum... "devastating impact of five years pushing more children into poverty.” 

Deputy Mayor Asma Begum... "devastating impact of five years pushing more children into poverty.” - Credit: Zoom

Deputy mayor Asma Begum, with cabinet responsibility for youth services and education, said: “These new statistics show the devastating impact of austerity and how rapidly child poverty has increased in five years. 

“Many government policies like welfare reforms and housing keep pushing more children into poverty.” 

The town hall also provides a council tax reduction scheme by up to 100 per cent, depending on circumstances — some 31,000 households get a discount, including 20,856 getting 100pc off.  

Researchers from End Child Poverty used data from the Department for Work and Pensions in May alongside housing costs to show the rates of child poverty rising, even before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Mandy George from Bethnal Green throws challenge in 2014 to try and live on £1 a day

Anti-poverty campaigner Mandy George from Bethnal Green throws challenge in 2014 to try and live on £1 a day. - Credit: Global Poverty Project