5 Sep 2012

UK’s poorest children suffering most from recession

The UK’s poorest children are bearing the greatest burden of the recession, research from Save the Children shows.

Child Poverty (Reuters)

The charity’s report, “Child Poverty in 2012: It Shouldn’t Happen Here”, says that one-in-eight of the country’s poorest children go without at least one hot meal a day.

It also found one-in-ten of the UK’s poorest parents have cut back on their own meals in order to make sure their children have enough to eat.

Alison, aged 14, said in the survey: “When I ask for stuff, my mum tells me to go away. I wish I could just get a whole load of money and give it to her.”

Eleven-year-old Duncan told researchers: “My mum makes sacrifices so that I can do the hobbies I want to do to keep me off the streets. She cuts back on buying herself new shoes and clothes.”

The survey also showed that 61 per cent of children in poverty have working parents compared to 45 per cent in the mid-nineties.

Save the Children obtained the results through an online survey of 1,504 children in classroom settings. The children were aged eight to 16 years old from 35 schools.

Half of the surveys were done in areas of high deprivation. Over 5,000 parents also carried out the survey during May and June 2012.

Other findings of the survey were:

  • Over a third of children (36 per cent) say their family struggles to pay the bills.
  • 15 per cent of children say they go without new shoes when they’ve grown out of their old ones, 14 per cent go without a warm winter coat and 23 per cent of parents say their children miss out on school trips because they can’t afford them.
  • 29 per cent of parents say they can’t afford to have their children’s friends over for tea and 10 per cent miss out on celebrating their birthday.
  • 13 per cent of the poorest children have stopped asking for anything because they know their parents can’t afford it, with a further 25 per cent only asking for things they really need.

Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s chief executive, said: “No child should see their parent going hungry or start the new term without a warm coat and with holes in their shoes.

“Poverty is tearing families apart, with parents buckling under the pressure of mounting bills and children seeing their parents argue more about money. That’s why for the first time in our history we are launching a UK appeal. We need to help poor families survive the recession”

Mr. Forsyth added: “Given that most children living in poverty have at least one parent in work; it is appalling that those parents can’t earn enough to give themselves and their kids a decent life.

“All working parents should be able to earn enough to meet the basic needs of their children.

“The government must make work pay by encouraging more employers to introduce a living wage, provide extra child care support to help parents trying to get into work and protect the poorest and most disadvantaged from further cuts.”