Source: eGov monitor - A Policy Dialogue Platform
Published Wednesday, 23 February, 2011 - 09:31
1..6 Million children are living in abject poverty in the UK and the numbers could rise with the looming public sector spending cuts and welfare reforms, the charity Save the Children has reported calling it a "national scandal". Welsh children are more likely to live in poverty than their counterparts in other parts of the UK.
Wales has the highest proportion of children (14%) living in severe poverty followed by England (13%). Scotland and Northern Ireland each have 9% of children living in abject poverty. The figures compiled by the charity also shows that in 29 local authority areas more than 20% of children are affected by severe poverty. Children living in Manchester and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets are most affected where child poverty numbers are as high as 27%.
Newham in London has child poverty rate of 25% followed by London Borough of Westminster (the richest council in the country) and Leicester with 24%. In cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool and Nottingham 23% children are growing up in very poor households.
Save the Children urged the UK government to take immediate steps to support low income families to tackle this national crisis. The charity is also critical of the government's proposals to replace anti-poverty measures based on income levels. ""You cannot ignore incomes when tackling child poverty," the charity has said. However, the government has defended the move saying it is attempting to tackle the root causes of poverty and disadvantage.
"Over the last decade vast sums of money has been poured into the benefits system in an attempt to address poverty, this approach has failed," a DWP spokesperson said. ""Our radical welfare reforms will benefit the poorest in society, helping 350,000 children out of poverty, and targeting support at those who need it most to make work pay and break the benefits trap."
The government says it is "fully committed to the goal of eradicating child poverty by 2020." However, Save the Children believes that government policy could push more families into poverty and they need help now.
"Children up and down the country are going to sleep at night in homes with no heating, without eating a proper meal and without proper school uniforms to put on in the morning," said Sally Copley, Save the Children's head of UK policy.
"No child should be born without a chance. It is a national scandal that 1.6 million children are growing up in severe poverty," she added as she called for urgent "government help towards them."
Kate Green the Labour MP and anti poverty campaigner expressed concern that the progress made under the previous government on child poverty is now being "reversed by the Conservative-led government's decision to go too far and too fast with deficit reduction".
": "George Osborne promised at his budget and spending review that his tough approach to cutting the deficit would not increase child poverty," she added. "But Save the Children is right to warn about the impact of rising unemployment, the VAT increase and unfair cuts to welfare."