In a week when CPAG has published the brilliant new book Living hand to mouth – children and food in low income families by Rebecca O’Connell, Abigail Knight and Julia Brannen, it might seem strange to suggest that food is not the solution to hunger.
Every March the government releases raw data on poverty – called Households Below Average Income. Presented without government spin, we can look at the numerous tables and work out what these numbers – which look so benign on a spreadsheet – mean for actual children. Children growing up worried about money, missing out on things other kids take for granted, and taking the effects of poverty with them into adulthood. What can we learn from the stats this year?
The benefits freeze has left families out in the cold – but just £20 per month for families would help restore children’s benefits and keep 100,000 out of poverty.
This blog shows what has happened to the value of three important social security benefits since 2009 up to last year 2018. Results are presented for three benefits:
In the words of the Sergeant Pepper song, ’It was twenty years ago today…’, on 18 March 1999, that the British government pledged to be the first to end child poverty in a generation. By 2010, there were 1.1 million fewer children in poverty. We proved once and for all that child poverty is policy-responsive, that it can be cut, and we were half way to showing it could be eliminated. Half-way, that is, to the target to get down to 10 per cent - a target we were on track to achieve by March 2020.
Lunch at the school canteen in Lisbon (left) and in London (right)
In the last few years, a slew of reports have been published focusing on the impact of the coalition government’s decision to localise various elements of the national social security system, including council tax benefit (now council tax support) and the discretionary social fund (now local welfare assistance).
Universal credit needs fixing. That’s certainly not the first time we’ve said that, but today the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd MP seemed to agree. At a Jobcentre in south London we got our first glimpse of what changes she has planned to make the benefit work better for everyone. Meanwhile, a couple of miles away the High Court announced that we had won our universal credit assessment period case. What do these two things mean for people claiming universal credit?
The United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor Philip Alston, completed his 10 day visit in November by concluding that the UK's high child poverty rate was “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one”. Our work campaigning for policies that will prevent and solve poverty, training and advising those who support hard-up families, and mounting legal challenges to protect people’s rights, is as vital as ever.