The North East Child Poverty Commission is calling for a post-Covid recovery to prioritise delivering a better future for children and young people in the region.

Meeting this week to discuss the impact of the global pandemic on the North-East’s children and families, representatives from local authorities, charities, housing and health organisations, the faith community and academics welcomed the compassion and co-operation shown by people and organisations across the region throughout the Coronavirus crisis.

However, the group warned that not only has the Covid-19 lockdown created many new challenges for North-East families, it has shone a harsh spotlight on inequalities that already existed for tens of thousands of children and young people across the region.

Longstanding concerns around educational disadvantage, food insecurity, housing, the growing digital divide, health inequalities and an inadequate social security system must be properly addressed as part of the country’s post-Covid recovery - with a comprehensive Government strategy to end child poverty at the heart of this plan.

The commission’s warning is timely after analysis of new Government data – published by the End Child Poverty coalition this week – showed that the North East has seen the starkest increase in child poverty in the country in recent years, even before the Coronavirus crisis hit household incomes.

North East Child Poverty Commission chairwoman, Jane Streather, said: "The compassion and social solidarity that has been shown across the country throughout this crisis must be reflected by Government as we eventually move out of it.

"Children and young people in the North-East have faced enormous anxiety and upheaval as a result of the lockdown, and we know that the most disadvantaged communities have been hardest hit by this dreadful pandemic. Children must be put first and foremost in the country’s post-Covid recovery plans, and we owe it to them to ensure that what comes next is better than what went before.

"We have to build a better future for children and young people in the North East, and a clear Government commitment – and action – to end child poverty must be central to that."