Opinion: Shame of 1 in 3 growing up in poverty
In some parts of the city, it is even higher.
As a volunteer myself over the past three years, I am all too familiar with the growth in families turning to foodbanks here in Peterborough. The stark reality is that life has got tougher for families post pandemic due to the cost-of-living crisis, rising energy bills and the financial chaos we have come to associate with the Conservative government.
In the Peterborough Parliamentary constituency, which covers much of the centre of Peterborough, according to the latest figures from the University of Loughborough and the End Child Poverty Coalition, 4 in 10 children are living in poverty.
We need to keep telling ourselves these are not just statistics but real-life examples of young people starting out in life yet being let down by our collective failure. The figures here are much higher than in England as a whole, and they have worsened in recent years.
The image of the Conservatives here in Peterborough isn’t one of big cheques and photo opportunities, but of rising inequality and families struggling to make ends meet. The big question at the next election will be, do you feel better off after the last few years?
Working alongside the charity Family Action in my Dogsthorpe ward, and as a foodbank volunteer, I cannot escape the growing hardship many families face. Faith groups, charities and community groups are the lifeline holding much of this city together. But we also need help from our political leaders and a government on our side.
It is barely a year since Liz Truss crashed the economy leaving working people in Peterborough and around the country to pay the price. Peterborough’s Conservative MP and councillors brought Liz Truss to the city to launch her campaign. They were so proud of her. Whilst they popped the champagne corks to celebrate their leader, many families were staring at mortgage bills going up by over £200 per month, often more, much more.
Rarely has this country needed change more than it does now. Nothing works, people are fed up. Yet still Rishi Sunak clings to power, looking down at us from one of his private jets. He doesn’t have to worry about the cost of a tank or petrol or if the trains will run on time.
In nearby Mid-Beds which elected a Labour MP last week on a record-breaking swing, people are crying out for change.
We need a fresh start, with a focus on getting things done for the city, not just photo opportunities and free food for our MP. For Labour that means fixing our inadequate Children’s Services, improving opportunities for young people, and raising standards in schools across the city whilst reversing the worrying decline in the number of people starting an apprenticeship.
Peterborough is a city with a proud history built on engineering and manufacturing with enormous potential as we continue to grow at pace. But we will not realise that potential if we do not put ambition for our children and young people at the very top of the list of our priorities.