We are deep into the 21st century and the UK is the fifth largest economy on the planet. Child poverty ought to be something we read about in history books. But for millions of children in the UK it is a daily reality.
As a society this is something we are all responsible for, nothing less than a modern-day sin. It is also a massive failure of government.
But there are simple things the government can do to begin to end child poverty in the UK.
New research carried out by Loughborough University for the End Child Poverty Coalition was published 19 May 2021.
It found that:
4.3 million children were living in poverty in the UK, in March 2020,
And the number of children living in poverty was up by 200,000 from the previous year, and up 500,000 over the past five years.
The largest cities are hardest hit.
The greatest concentrations of child poverty are in London and Birmingham, the UK’s two largest cities. Here are the 20 local authorities with highest child poverty rates in 2019/20, 14 of which were in London.
% of children below 60% median income after housing costs, 2019/20
Barking and Dagenham
Newcastle upon Tyne
For very many families work is not a route out of poverty, rather, for them low-paid work is a route into poverty, and this is increasingly the case.
9 things the government should do to begin to fix child poverty in the UK
1) Ensure a good job for everyone.
2) Ban zero hours contracts.
3) A fair pay rise for all key workers, instigate a £10 national minimum wage now, and the actively promote and pay the real living wage in London.
4) End the privatisation and outsourcing of public sector jobs.
5) Scrap the freeze on ‘in-work benefits’.
6) Make the £20 uplift to universal credit permanent, and extend it to legacy benefits.
7) The basic rate of Universal Credit needs to increase to 80 per cent of the real living wage, and end the cruel elements of the system, such as the two child-limit to tax credits, the five-week wait, and increase child benefits.
8) Raise the threshold for Local Housing Allowance and lift the benefits cap.
Investment in low-cost childcare.
9)A national-homes building programme as part of an industrial strategy, with a focus on low-cost social housing, ‘living rents’, and steps to secure private sector tenancies.