A WORRYING amount of youth found themselves living in poor conditions during the coronavirus pandemic, with concerns this may return as the cost of living continues to rise.

One in eight children in Braintree were living in poverty during the first full year of the Covid-19 pandemic, figures have revealed.

Child poverty charities warn that the Government's response to the cost of living crisis risks reversing the fall in the number of children living below the breadline across the UK.

Department for Work and Pensions data shows 3,764 children aged under 16 were living in families with low incomes in 2020-21 – an estimated 12.8 per cent of all youngsters in the area.

That was down from 14.3 per cent the year before, but more than the 11 percent in 2014-15, when comparable figures were first published.

Families are included in the figures if they have claimed child benefit alongside another means of support, such as Universal Credit, tax credits or housing benefit, at some point in the year.

Different figures – which take housing costs into account – show 3.9 million UK children were living in relative poverty in 2020-21, down from 4.3 million the year before.

Of the children aged 0-15 in poverty in Braintree last year, 1,181, 31 per cent, were aged below five.

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Action for Children said the Government risks failing on its manifesto pledge to cut child poverty and force millions of families into years of "miserable hardship" without further measures.

Director of policy and campaigns at the organisation Imran Hussain said: "As prices continue to rise, more low-income parents who were just about managing could go under, with no tips, tricks or hacks left to stretch their income over the month.

"As well as the current cost of living crisis, many families with children are still reeling from October’s £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit."

The Department for Work and Pensions said the data should be treated with caution, especially when compared with previous years, due to changes in data collection during lockdowns, which affected the sample size and composition.

A Government spokesman said the landscape is different now than it was during the pandemic and that filling the record number of vacancies is the best route out of poverty.