These are tough economic times for everyone, but they are even tougher for families who are already struggling. In Britain today there are a shocking 1.6 million children living in severe poverty.
Families living in severe poverty often have to choose between heating and eating as they struggle to live on less than £15,000 a year for a household of a couple and two children.
The coalition government says it’s committed to ending child poverty by 2020. To meet the goals set out in the Child Poverty Act 2010, the government needs to lift approximately 100,000 children out of poverty each year for the next 10 years.
Ending severe child poverty as soon as possible, and meeting the 2020 target to end child poverty entirely, must be a top priority for this government.
How to break the cycle of poverty
Growing up in poverty can dramatically affect a child’s life chances. At every stage of schooling, the poorest children do worse than their better off classmates.
A pupil on free school meals is only a third as likely to succeed at every key stage at school compared to their better off classmates. The gap in development starts to emerge between children as early as age 22 months.
To end child poverty the government must:
- See that unemployed parents get all the help they need to get a job – help with getting high-quality childcare, training, the guarantee that work will pay more than benefits, and, crucially, making sure decent, flexible jobs are there to apply for
- Ensure that those in work are not being paid below the poverty line, by backing the living wage and increasing the minimum wage
- Break the link between being born poor and not doing well at school by investing in high-quality education and childcare for young children, support for parents, and a substantial extra investment in the schooling of the poorest pupils.