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Child poverty in the UK

2 min read

Ahead of his debate, Peter Dowd MP writes on the state of child poverty and its impact on our future. 

At the start of 2016 writing about the levels of child poverty of itself is difficult to credit. The UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet in constituencies like mine levels of child poverty remain stubbornly high. For example, in one of the wards I represent levels of child poverty have reached 40% and across the constituency is it around 30%.

According to Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) DWP statistics indicate that between 1998 and 2011 1.1 million children were lifted out of poverty. But, and this is the worrying fact, since 2011 the figures have flat lined and the number of children in absolute poverty has increased by half a million since 2010.

Of course, it does not stop there. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) have projected that the number of children in relative poverty will have risen from 3.6 million to 4.3 million by 2010. Surely this cannot be either right or tolerable.

Of course, all these “statistics” cloud the fact that every one of the children affected by their life of poverty, for that is what it is, will be affected by it in so many ways – possibly poorer health, poorer educational attainment, poorer life time earnings, poorer length of life and so it goes on.

Of course, the cost to the country of that poverty has also been financially estimated, as are most things nowadays. As much as £29 billion, according to CPAG, is lost in tax revenue or service costs as a result of poverty.  

Given this, if the alleviation of child poverty for the sake of it is not a sufficient reason to tackle this endemic problem, then perhaps the economic argument, the fiscal argument or the tax revenue argument may jolt more action. I prefer the former reason for helping children out of poverty but, if the quality of life of millions of our children will be helped by pound signs at the Treasury then I’ll settle for that. But I’d rather not have to.

Peter Dowd, Labour MP for Bootle

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