The children’s commissioner for England has urged politicians to come up with a ‘big, bold, long-term plan’ to end child poverty.
It comes as Anne Longfield publishes a series of essays by politicians across the political divide, which calls for urgent action to tackle the issue.
Introducing the essays, Ms Longfield warns that child poverty in England will continue to rise during this parliament unless the government commits to a bold, broad response.
The commissioner says in 2010/11, there were 3.6m children living in relative poverty in the UK after housing costs.
By the start of her term as children’s commissioner, in 2014/15, the number had risen to 3.9m, rising to 4.2m or 30% of children by 2018/19.
By the end of this parliament, even with a strong economic recovery, one in three children will be living in relative poverty – a level not seen since the 1990s.
‘In the short term, I want the government to commit to keeping the £20 Universal Credit uplift,’ says Ms Longfield.
‘But too often policy changes to help people in poverty are a sticking plaster for the symptoms, made as a result of short-term political embarrassment.
‘I am pleased to publish this collection of essays, which makes powerful arguments for an overhaul of the current system, with positive and practical solutions for cutting the number of children living in poverty. Both ministers and the opposition should take these ideas on board.
‘Child poverty is one of the four major political, economic and social challenges facing us, along with decarbonising our economy, looking after an aging population, and preparing the jobs market for automation. We need to treat it with the same seriousness, and even greater urgency,’ added Ms Longfield.
‘Politicians must take child poverty out of the ‘too difficult box’ now, and come up with a big, bold, long-term plan for fixing it.’
The coordinator of the End Child Poverty coalition, Judith Cavanagh, welcomed the cross-party call to end child poverty.
‘Regardless of political stance, we can all agree on what a good childhood looks like: having enough food to eat; somewhere safe to live; the chance to fully participate in school; pursuing passions; and building ambitions for a successful future,’ she said.
‘Yet, the pandemic is worsening what was already a child poverty crisis. It threatens to pull even more children away from the childhood they deserve, and cuts more families adrift. Without action, we risk increasing the gap in opportunity and achievement between low income families and those better off. ‘
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