In repsonse to the government's new child poverty strategy, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:
'The government’s continued commitment to ending child poverty is welcome. But its strategy has no new ideas on how to make this a reality. It falls far short of what is needed to prevent a significant increase in the number of children living in poverty by 2020.
'Too many of the strategy’s measures will fail to end child poverty. Some will make the problem worse.
'The inclusion of the bedroom tax in this strategy is alarming. We know from our direct work with families that this will only make children poorer, for example by displacing more families.
'Nearly two million children in poverty are not getting the Warm Home Discount. The extension of this support for one more year does nothing to change this. Huge swathes of children must not be left out in the cold.
'Much more is needed to help the millions of families across the UK that every day face harsh choices between heating and eating. Making free school meals available to all children in infant schools is a significant step forward, yet 500,000 children over the age of seven living on the breadline will still miss out.
'To really make work pay, the government must make sure that the poorest working families get 85% of their childcare costs covered under Universal Credit. These steps are critical to ending child poverty once and for all. There is no time to delay.'
For more information, please call The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.
Notes to editors:
- The Warm Home Discount is a £135 rebate for low-income, vulnerable households. It is key to families not having to choose between heating their homes or feeding their children. Families living in poverty with children do not automatically get this key support. For more information see Behind Cold Doors: The chilling reality for children in poverty.
- 3.5 million children in the UK are living in poverty today.
- Six in 10 children living in poverty are in low-income working families.
- By 2020, an estimated three quarters of a million more children will be living in poverty than today according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
- The Children’s Society is supporting the first ever Children’s Commission on Poverty. On 21 February, 10 of the young commissioners met government officials from the Child Poverty Unit to raise their concerns over child poverty in the UK and action they want taken. The commissioners want the government to draw on children’s actual experience – and not just the statistics -- when developing measures to tackle child poverty.
- The Children’s Commission on Poverty is being led by a panel of 16 children and teenagers from across England, ranging in age from 12 to 19. They are leading an 18-month investigation into child poverty in the UK. It provides a crucial platform for children to speak out about what poverty is really like and reveal, through their own eyes, the day-to-day challenges they face and what needs to be done.
- The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life. Someone who acts on their behalf and can help guide them through the extremely complex system. These children deserve to be kept safe so they can recover from the trauma they have suffered and rebuild their lives.