Now I know this is supposed to be an academic blog, but sometimes you've got to get political. Especially given the snap General Election for June 8th called by Theresa May earlier this month.
So 2 years ago today, I wrote a Facebook status about child poverty because everyone on my Timeline was fawning over the royal baby (dunno which one, because frankly I'm an anti-monarchist and don't really care).
Anyway, back then there were 3.7 MILLION children living in poverty in the UK.... that figure today has risen to 3.9 MILLION, possibly even more.
Let me break that down for you:
- That's 1 in 4
- That's 28%
- That's 9 in every classroom of 30 children
- 66% of these children are in working families where at least 1 parent works - WORK DOES NOT MEAN AN END TO POVERTY.
Moreover, there are many more families walking that fine line where having even the smallest benefit cut would mean they too fall into poverty.
In Cardiff Central, my constituency, 34.2% of children are in poverty. In some areas of the country, more than 40% of children are living in poverty
Why does this matter?
- Poverty has a severe impact on one's educational attainment:
- by the end of primary school, children in poverty are, on average, 3 TERMS behind their wealthier classmates.
- By GCSE, there is a 28% gap between children on Free School Meals and wealthier students on obtaining at least 5 A*s - C GCSE grades.
-Poverty can mean health issues:
- Men who live in the most deprived areas of the UK will live on average 9.2 years fewer than men in the least deprived areas.
- They will also spend 14% less of their lives healthy.
- Poorer children are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses during their childhoods or suffer from a disability.
- Poor children weigh less at birth.
- Children in low income families are more likely to die at birth or during infancy.
- Child poverty costs the government £29 BILLION a year.
It is clear that the Tory government is failing children.
Now, there has been a lot of talk recently about Jeremy Corbyn not being a good leader of the Labour Party. Personally, I don't care what your views about Corbyn as a 'leader' are, I don't care if you think he's the worst person to lead the Labour Party at the moment or ever. But what I do care about is the next generation and the best thing for the next generation IS NOT another Tory government.
We need to be doing everything we can to lift all children out of poverty. We need to commit to ensuring that every child gets the chance to succeed and that every child grows up healthy.
It is NOT just a case of telling people to 'get a job', it has been proven that is NOT enough, especially with the growth in 0-hours contracts and precarious employment. Nearly 1 MILLION people in the UK are on Zero-hours contracts, 6 MILLION people earn below the Living Wage (£8.45/£9.75 in London*). So, whilst Theresa May thinks that there are 'many complex reasons' why people use food-banks across the UK **, the clear reason is that people DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH MONEY and are going hungry.
Meanwhile Theresa May is on a nice salary of £209,199 (PM pay plus MP pay) a year and owns 2 houses worth around £1.6M.
Ending child poverty is always a big party of politicians' manifestos, however, empty promises are not enough. We need ACTION, we need CHANGE and this is not going to happen under the Tories. I've only recently joined the Labour Party, mainly because of Corbyn's politics and the positive shift to the left, but you don't have to agree with all his politics and policies to see that the Labour Party is the ONLY alternative to another 5 years of Tory governmental rule and more children falling below the poverty line.
So I know this is a very political piece for an academic blog, but it's a topic I care very strongly about. Please, for the sake of children in poverty across the UK, even if you have to grit your teeth and vote for a Blairite, vote Labour on June 8th to get the Tories out and take a step forward in lifting millions of children out of poverty.