Millions of children are living in poverty in the United Kingdom and this marks the 20th anniversary of Labour’s promise to eradicate child hunger.
Much progress was made under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown but that good work was destroyed by the Conservatives, and there have been debates about how you measure child hunger, but the metric used by most charities shows 4.1 million children are living below the breadline.
And the number is estimated to soar to as high as 5.2 million within the next three years as Tory welfare cuts continue to bite, and the two-child benefit cap alone could force another 300,000 children into poverty by 2023-24.
The Conservatives have long contended that work is the best route out of deprivation. The dilemma is that it’s not proving to be the case, and it’s estimated that 70 per cent of children found to be in poverty are in working homes.
And behind every statistic is a story of a child going hungry at school or living in crowded and inadequate accommodation or unable to keep warm because there’s no money for a winter coat.
The most disheartening aspect is not just that the most disadvantaged have paid the highest price for a decade of austerity but that in doing so the government have failed a generation of children who have so much to contribute.
Because if you’re going hungry or continually being moved from one temporary accommodation to another, then it affects the child’s education, and if that child is sharing a cramped room with their siblings, then it’s more difficult for them to do their homework.
Impoverished families can’t afford things which others take for granted such as music lessons or school excursions that can improve a child’s development, and talent and potential are going untapped because of want and deprivation.
And if our Government is serious about levelling up, it could start with levelling up the incomes of the most affected in this country in the impending Budget, and the Government should all be behind eradicating poverty – the trouble is, Boris Johnson always appears to be absent while blaming everyone else.
There are numerous people out there that suffer from extreme poverty, not the nonsense Ipad poverty people and the government attempt to stuff down our gullets, but the poverty of yesteryear. However, we do have a sense of responsibility to get ourselves off the plantation.