Concerns for child poverty increase despite a government promise to tackle the issue by 2020 in the UK.
Statistics have shown that 3.9 million children were living in poverty last year. 1.3 million of which were living in a household with both parents unemployed and with 1.5 million living in household with one parent in work.
2016 figures for Yorkshire have shown that “nearly 68 per cent or more than 263,000 children are in poverty and live in a household in which at least one parent works.” Said Rob Jackson, The Yorkshire Area Director at The Children’s Society.
“It is very important for people to know about child poverty, tackling low pay and insecure work is important in tackling child poverty.” Neera Sharma, assistant director and policy researcher at Barnardo’s head office said.
Research shows children belonging to a household with a lone parent, a larger family, from a ethnic minority or from families with disabilities are all at greater risk of poverty.
These factors play a significant impact on a child’s future and childhood, for example, they are more likely to suffer from health related problems.
They are also seen to be slower at all stages of their education life, with them being on average nine months behind in education at the age of three years old in contrast to wealthier children.
“Poverty has a devastating effect on children,”
Said Rob Devey, the communications officer at The Children’s Society, “it can lead to them missing out on hot meals, sleeping in cold bedrooms and being bullied at school. It can also drastically reduce their long-term life chances.”
“Children growing up in poverty do less well at school and are more likely to be unemployed or in low paid work as adults.” Neera Sharma said.
One way to measure child poverty is by measuring households with relative low incomes, this is income below 60% of the median household after deducting housing costs. The other way is measuring absolute low income which are households with an income below 60% of the 2010/11 median.
The government however are keen on tackling child poverty by the end on 2020. They are already in a process of helping low income families. This will overlook improvements in supporting families through work, improving living standards and preventing poor children growing up to be poor adults.
But many organisations are skeptic about this, “the Government’s four year benefits freeze will only make this situation worse as living costs rise and families struggle to afford basic living costs, with some falling into debt.” Rob Jackson said.
“That’s why The Children’s Society wants to see urgent action to reverse the worrying growth of poverty and in-work poverty.”
This will be including “a halt to the benefits freeze, an end to cuts in support for low-income families, an extension of free school meals to all children in poverty and more support for families in debt.”
Neera Sharma also added “the Government needs to work with a range of partners including local government; schools and colleges; businesses and employers to combat this problem. It requires a long term strategic approach.”
By, Anam Azeem