Child poverty is one the most worrying issues affecting families in England, and looks set to rise in the future with cuts to the Sure Start program announced this week.
Severe poverty is defined by the Government as a household in receipt of half the average national income, for example, for a family of four this would be pay of less than £12,500. This income figure is also combined with what is referred to as "material deprivation".
Examples of Materiel Deprivation include children who are unable to take a holiday or invite friends home for tea and where adults were not able to pay for repairs to essential items such as fridges or afford insurance.
Save the Children have recently released figures for each local authority area in the country showing what percentage of children live in homes affected by severe poverty. These children are defined as living in Child Poverty.
Figures for 2005 show Child Poverty in North Lincolnshire to be at 18%, recently released 2011 data shows that in the five years from 2005 to 2010 this figure in North Lincolnshire dropped to 14%.
This means that in real terms there are over 4,000 children in North Lincolnshire alone classed by the Government as living in poverty.
In 1999 the government pledged to end Child Poverty in the UK, and as a result over the following years an estimated 550,000 families were lifter from poverty by a series of government funded strategies which included Sure Start.
In the 2010 Election both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats pledged to continue to fight Child Poverty in their election campaigns.
The UK has one of the highest rates of Child Poverty in industrialised Europe, what some readers may find surprising however is that 59% of affected families have at least one parent who works, and 57% of affected families consist of a household with two parents.
Long gone is they myth that Child Poverty affects only those on benefits or single parents.
Government data shows this is an issue that is not limited to those on benefit or incapacity allowance but is a serious problem for lots of hard working families around the UK.
It's become all to acceptable in today's society to "blame" people who are our of work or are unable to work for their financial situation. The £18Bn cut in central government funding on benefits, tax credits and assistance to families is however going to see an increase in Child Poverty over the next five years. What we as a society need to do is look closely at where the funding is being cut, and help and support those who need it most, as these people are least likely, or least able to make their voices heard.
This becomes very difficult however when we are told by the media how benefit cheats and scroungers are ruining the country. This is simply not true, look at what Mervin King, governor of the Bank of England said about the bankers
just this morning, and then ask your self honestly, is it the victims that are to blame?
This week a further cut was announced by Central Government affecting the Sure Start scheme. This will result in a reduction of £60 per year for every place at the Sure Start scheme run in Scunthorpe.
Sure Start children's centres offer the following services for children and their families, providing valuable support to parents as well as children:
- Child and family health services
- Childcare and early learning
- Advice on parenting
- Access to specialists services such as speech therapy & healthy eating
- Advice or help with managing money
- Help for parents to find work or training
- Access to a dentist, dietician or physiotherapist
- Access to "stop smoking" clinics
- Access to expert advice, support for learning difficulties
- Short-term carer breaks for children with learning difficulties or disabilities
- Parenting classes
- improve your English if it is not your first language
Its clear from the range of services offered that for may families on low incomes the Sure Start scheme is of paramount importance, and that reductions in funding will once again hit the poorest hardest.
Speaking on this matter earlier this week, Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin said :
"Sure Start schemes provide real help to thousands of children and parents across North Lincolnshire. It would be a real tragedy if some of them were forced to close when they have just begun to pay real dividends."
We must move away from this jaded and inaccurate view that those living in poverty are doing so through their own life choices or fault. The Government's own figures show that this is a very real and important matter which affects hard working families who under the current regime are struggling to make ends meet.
The Guardian, 28th Feb
Sure Start Children's Centres
End Child Poverty
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