METRO mayor Steve Rotheram has called for more action to tackle 'the scourge of child poverty' as figures show one in three children live below the poverty line in Merseyside.

Research published by the End Child Poverty coalition highlights how poverty is on the rise in deprived areas and points to severe real-terms cuts in benefits, the roll-out of Universal Credit and rising housing costs as being behind the rise.

It reveals that, locally, one in three children are living in poverty, rising from one in four in 2014 – with communities such as Picton in Liverpool (where 49.9% of children are living in poverty) and Stockbridge Village in Knowsley (41.3%) particularly affected by child poverty.

In Wirral, the figure is 29%.

Responding to the report Mr Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool City Region, said: "It is devastating that one in three children in our city region are growing up in poverty, whilst some communities are so blighted that almost every other child is growing up below the poverty line.

"During a decade-long programme of cuts we have seen child poverty rise year-on-year.

"This is betraying a generation of young people and we cannot allow this level of want to become normalised.

"While we are doing good work locally to improve the life chances of those from disadvantaged backgrounds it is clear we are now facing a national crisis when it comes to child poverty."

Mr Rotheram added that Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is delivering a number of schemes to tackle poverty in the region, including £400million already invested to create 9,000 jobs and 5,500 apprenticeships.

Last year the authority launched its £500m Strategic Investment Fund, with the aim of transforming the region's economy, creating high-quality jobs and boosting living standards for local people.

The Strategic Investment Fund has made delivering local jobs, inclusive growth and positive social impacts – such as paying the Real Living Wage, using local suppliers and recognising trade unions – major factors in approving funding.

The £8 million Households into Work programme is working with 800 long-term unemployed people help remove the barriers they face in getting back into work.

In November 2018, the Combined Authority, along with bus operators Arriva and Stagecoach, provided 3000 bus tickets for local foodbanks to help those with the greatest transport needs.

Mr Rotheram said that long and medium-term projects, such as an ultra-fast digital network for the city region and a Mersey Tidal Project, to harness the power of the River Mersey and Liverpool Bay, have the potential to transform the Liverpool City Region economy and create thousands of high-quality jobs.