Cumbria is ‘uniquely unequal’ for children, according to one inequality expert.

Professor Kaz Stuart, an inequalities research expert at the University of Cumbria, aims to dispel the myth that children all have equal opportunity and where they end up in society is a combination of luck and freewill.

For instance, the Cumbria Community Foundation’s publication Cumbria Revealed highlighted:

  • One in eight households in Cumbria have less than £10k income;
  • One in 10 households live in fuel poverty;
  • 11,700 Cumbrian children live in poverty;
  • Youth unemployment is up to five times the national average in some wards, and;
  • Child mental health issues are above the national average.

Added to this, due to deprivation on the west coast and poor rural transport access to vital services, life expectancy in the north of the country is 18 years less than the south.

All these factors lead to stark inequality, which is felt right across the county.

Professor Stuart will address these issues during her lecture, 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor - Social Determinants of Child Outcomes'.

She said: “Cumbria has some deep-seated social challenges that mark it out as uniquely unequal compared to the rest of the country and for that reason, it’s very hard for a disadvantaged child here to lift themselves out of their situation alone.

"That’s why we need to scrutinise our perceptions of fairness and realise we don’t have to accept the status-quo, accepting instead that we have the power to enact significant change just by the way we think about things.”

In her role as director for the Centre for Research in Health and Society, part of the university’s newly established Institute of Health, Professor Stuart is pitching for grants to the tune of £400,000 to fund applied research to address these local issues and recruiting researchers specifically for the task. The lecture will take place in early 2020.