Posted: 19 February 2013

Giving parents a voice on child poverty policy

We arrived bright and early at a Swindon community centre recently to discuss child poverty with families and practitioners from our children’s centres. The basis of this was the government’s consultation introducing new measures of child poverty.

What did the families tell us? A major issue was the prohibitively high cost of childcare which acted as a major barrier to parents being able to work. Another issue raised was the problem of unmanageable debt and high interest rate loan companies targeting families living in disadvantaged areas.

Their thoughts are in line with what we know about the experiences of children growing up in poor households in this country. Struggling families are having to choose between heating their homes or feeding their children. Some parents cannot afford to give their child a birthday present or pay for school trips.

Getting a more nuanced view of child poverty

The government has opened up this debate wanting to broaden the measures of child poverty so the focus is on more than just low income to ‘provide a more accurate picture of the reality of child poverty today’. The consultation suggests including a wider range of factors such as poor housing, parental skill level and debt.

We have been working with the government’s child poverty unit to make sure that the families we work with and our practitioners who deal with these issues on a day to day basis can have their say. 

We want the government to develop a more nuanced understanding of child poverty and children's experiences of poverty. 

But it is really important that the new measures stays true to the child poverty act 2010 as outlined in our response to the consultation. Low income and a lack of access to material resources are key to understanding child poverty and therefore how it should be measured. 

We’d like to thank all the families and practitioners who took the time out of their busy lives to come and talk to us about the issues they are facing and what could make their lives better. 

By Laura Rodrigues - Policy team

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