Despite the Government’s frequent statements on levelling up the country, only 19% of the British public think it is doing all it reasonably can to tackle child poverty, according to new research by the End Child Poverty coalition of charities and campaigners.
Taking into account the coronavirus, and all the other different priorities for the government today, the majority of the public (55%) believe the government must still do more to tackle child poverty, including around one in three (30%) Conservative voters.
The research also highlights that C2DE respondents are overwhelmingly concerned about the lack of action on child poverty; half (50%) of whom believe the government isn’t doing enough – more than double (21%) those who believe it is taking sufficient action.
The End Child Poverty coalition is encouraging people across the UK to book meetings in with their MP between the 8-15th February to urge their local representative to do more to give children the childhood they deserve.
The coalition is also calling on the government to make the £20 a week increase to Universal Credit permanent, expand it to other legacy benefits, and commit to a joined up strategy across government for reducing and ending child poverty.
The latest figures (2018-19) show 4.2 million children were in relative poverty, which is 600,000 more than in 2011/12. The figures for 2019-20 are due to be published soon.
Projections from the Resolution Foundation show that from this year – 2020-21 – to the end of the Parliament, around 730,000 more children will be living in poverty (this follows a projected fall by 290,000 from 2019-20 to 2020-21).
Anna Feuchtwang, Chair of the End Child Poverty coalition and Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “This is a bit of a vote of no confidence in levelling up so far. Ministers should be worried why so few people believe the government is doing what it should be doing on child poverty.
“We know what a good childhood looks like. It’s one in which children have enough to eat, somewhere safe and comfortable to sleep, with the chance to fully participate in society and pursue the things they love.
“And yet we know that for many children poverty holds them back, creating shame, stigma and ruining their life chances.”
“There is a clear consensus across the country that the government is not doing enough to tackle child poverty. It will require ambitious and bold policymaking to realise the childhood that we think all children deserve.
“And with this March’s budget the Chancellor has the opportunity to set out his plan to end child poverty.
“We are urging everyone who cares about child poverty to book a virtual meeting with their MP, in the week leading up to Valentines, to get the message across to our politicians in all parties that we want them to put children and child poverty at the heart of our economic recovery.”
Thomas Lawson, Chief Executive of Turn2us, said: “This research is telling us that the majority of the British public think the government has much further to go to tackle child poverty and to fulfil its ambitious levelling-up agenda.
“The pandemic has unfortunately financially excluded millions of us; we have all read the reports of hungry children, without the right computer equipment, struggling with their mental health; this tragedy should not be allowed to continue.
“Now is the time to act, in spite of the coronavirus, our ministers have the opportunity to produce the most emphatic child poverty reduction strategy this country has ever seen, so that all children have the opportunity to thrive.”