26 Jun 2014

In response to the government’s new child poverty strategy, The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive Matthew Reed said:

'The government strategy is a wasted opportunity to help end child poverty in the UK. At a time when drastic action is needed to improve these children’s lives, it has delivered a plan that cannot reverse this growing crisis.

'The government must commit to practical steps that will make a difference to the millions of families struggling to make ends meet if it is to achieve its commitment to end child poverty by 2020.

'Crucially, the government must do more to end the growing scandal of in-work poverty. It needs to help working families on low-incomes that too often miss out on vital help such as free school meals and the Warm Home Discount, which provides essential financial help for many households struggling to pay energy bills.

'It is also critical that the government takes effective action to help some of the most vulnerable children being pushed into poverty in the UK. The government should make sure children seeking safety from war and persecution get the support they need to stop them and their families from being forced into the most severe levels of poverty.

'This is the time for real action, not just words.'

Ends
 

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For more information, please call The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or email media@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

 
Notes to editors:

  • The government’s new child poverty strategy: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/child-poverty-strategy-2014-to-2017
  • All families in poverty with children should automatically get the Warm Home Discount, 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: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/policy-and-lobbying/child-poverty/warm-homes
  • 3.5 million children in the UK are living in poverty today: (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/households-below-average-income-hbai--2 ).
  • Six in 10 children living in poverty are in low-income working families (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/households-below-average-income-hbai--2 ).
  • 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: http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/r78.pdf
  • Asylum support rates have been frozen since April 2011, despite significant rises in the cost of living. Families seeking asylum may not work and so are wholly dependent on asylum support while their claim is being considered. Many of the estimate 6,000 families on this support are being pushed into poverty because the levels are so low. It is vital support is increased to 70% of Income Support rates. For more information see: http://action.childrenssociety.org.uk/page/speakout/refugees
  • The Children’s Society is supporting the first ever Children’s Commission on Poverty (http://www.childrenscommission.org.uk/inquiry ) , which 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.