Child Poverty

 poverty cartoon digging way out


Eradicate child poverty by 2020, what a bold target. Question is, is it a good target? All the major political Parties in the UK have signed up to the Child Poverty Act. Can this be achieved? Hmmmm No! Why not? We only have 7 years to wipe out generations of neglect, of institutionalised poverty. In 2007 a target was set to halve poverty by 2015. Are the politicians spinning us another tale? Definitely! They haven’t got the footballs to play this game out. The players can’t even properly define ‘relative poverty’.

Are you a believer? Keep answers short – two words only.

The Government and all the charities involved talk the ‘speak’. They bandy facts and figures around like stars in the night sky and while the stars may shine they don’t give off much light.

Across Europe ‘relative’ poverty is defined as having an income below 60% of the median, (the average national wage). However, the European definition includes housing costs whereas the UK one does not. In the USA it’s 50% of the median. Child Poverty Solutions ( talk of ‘material’ deprivation as having less than 70% of the median


child lost in confusion

What the…

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, (JRF) ( say there are 2.3m children living in poverty in the UK. Barnardo’s ( have the figure of 3.6 million. Save the children ( say 3.9m.  While the charity, End Child Poverty ( have 4m.

JRF say ‘chronic’ poverty affects 3% of the total population.

Barnardo’s has ‘severe’ poverty affecting 1.6m kids.


Good news! The Child Public Health Interest Group ( and Barnardo’s agree that a family of 4 e.g. two adults + two kids needs an income of £349 per week to avoid falling below the poverty line. However, the BBC ( gives a figure of £420. I don’t know the value of promoting such figures as they are subject to constant change.

The picture is not any better in the USA. says that 16.4m children live in poor families and of those some 7.4 live in ‘extreme’ poverty. Thus a family in America need $23.050 per annum to avoid falling below the poverty line. The Huffington Post (.com) citing Clasp say that the poverty rate for young children remains at 24.5% and, that in 2011 some 5.8m lived in poverty and 2.8 of them lived in ‘deep’ poverty.

When addressing the same audience (and they are) should they not speak with the same tongue?

What’s with all these adjectives: chronic, extreme, severe and deep, can they  not just choose one?

Few people view poverty as poor families, of deprivation, of going without or underachievement. To some folks it’s all they’ve ever known. However, the consequences can be quite severe,

“..has persistent ill effects on nervous and stress hormone systems leading to lifelong problems in learning, behaviour, physical and mental health thus compromising the fostering of resilience and capability.”  ‘ From womb to tomb’

Adding weight to the argument, Hannah Matthews, (Director of Child Care & Early Education at Clasp.) states,

“The prevalence of poverty among the very youngest children means that during the first three years of life – a fundamental period of rapid brain growth and development – babies are deprived of the very resources they need to survive.”  Article Huffington Post.

While I would be looking for some empirical research to underpin both these statements; you must admit they make a powerful read. Barnardo’s joins hands with the above.

Significantly there are more pieces of evidence to support the views expressed.

Brooking Institution, USA (2012) suggests that without high-quality early childhood experiences, kids are:

  •          25% more likely to drop out of school
  •          50% will be placed in special education.
  •          60% less likely to attend college.
  •          70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

Meanwhile JRF say that the cost of exclusion from society actually costs £25bn each year and a reduced GDP. (D Hirsh) That is a huge amount of money, huge! This is supported by Public Service Europe (.com) “Research shows that the cost of non-inclusion is higher than that of inclusion…”

Q. Is this based on the same research or independent studies?

If it is the case that it costs less to keep the poor out of poverty rather than pay for all their needs then why not do exactly that. Why don’t politicians take a pro-active stance on this issue and save us a load of dosh. They may say they have but..catch you later!  They could then cut taxes.

Sorry! My apologies, I must not ask for too much.  Ma, I don’t want to go to bed!

Does all this mean we should concentrate our charity donations on the basis of the old adage ‘charity begins at home’. The quick and easy answer is No! Why not? We pay more than enough in taxes for our government to meet the cost of welfare. It‘s just that our tax money is badly managed and spent. Politicians can’t help but screw up.

You can use different words and tone – for ‘screw up’ – if you wish.

make sure you drop in to part 2.