Government cuts and its effect on child poverty
Children living in Britain’s poorest families are facing grave threats to their most basic human rights, a recent parliamentary report has revealed.
The UK’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’s publication, released on 25th March by the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), has pointed out some frightening home truths about austerity in the UK and its impact on impoverished children.
In stark, plain language, the JCHR stated that the “cumulative impact of cuts to services, the cost of living crisis, and changes to the welfare system” have significantly impacted on the lives of deprived children in the UK, with some not even afforded basic access to food and shelter.
Proceeding in this damning manner, the cross-party committee added that after considering all the evidence it had been presented with during the short inquiry, it found that “the impact on children of this current period of austerity has been greater than for many other groups,” with children from low-income families and migrant children being the worst affected by government spending cuts.
Only last week, chancellor George Osborne proclaimed that the Conservatives had turned the UK’s economy around, choosing “families” and the “whole nation” in the process.
The eloquent chancellor painted a picture of Britain’s triumphant return to prosperity, where our faltering country was dragged from the gutter, given a renewed sense of purpose and set on its way forward, straight-backed and proud: “Britain is walking tall again,” he told us.
And yet it seems that the most vulnerable people in our society are still suffering and are set to suffer further, with Osborne’s budget likely to usher in another raft of cuts, ones which have welfare set firmly in the cross hairs.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has already said that it believes cutbacks to the tune of £20 billion will need to be made to the likes of welfare and tax credits if the current government’s public spending plans are to be met, two areas where funding cuts have already hurt Britain’s poorest.
It’s no secret that those who depend on welfare to get by have suffered the most at the hands of the government’s strict austerity measures. A joint research paper from London School of Economics and the Universities of Manchester and York, published in January, proclaimed that families with young children have been hit the hardest by the last five years of spending cuts, and that the levels of poverty among Britain’s worse off threaten to grow further should a similar bout of spending restrictions be ushered in.
Shockingly, almost 30 per cent of children in the UK live in poverty, giving Britain one of the worst records in this area in the industrialised world. Some 2.3 million children in the UK live in what is known as relative poverty and, perhaps more worryingly, the issue is becoming increasingly prominent in families where at least one parent works, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
If the chancellor’s Budget is to move forward as planned with yet more saving measures introduced, the UK could see its child poverty levels rise at an unprecedented rate over the next five years, and that is a cost Britain simply cannot afford to pay.