Child Poverty on the Rise

By Grainne Byrne
Image courtesy of The Guardian

A report launched this week shows alarming increases in the number of children living in poverty worrying figures for children in Scotland.

The report by The Campaign to End Child Poverty warns that 137,000 children now live in families with unemployed parents.  This means that the number of children now living in families that are entirely dependent on benefits has risen by 13%.

The report entitled Through Thick and Thin: Tackling Child Poverty found that four constituencies in Glasgow have the highest incidences of child poverty; North-East Glasgow, the worst hit area, has the highest number of unemployed parents as 4,000 people remain out of work.

Douglas Hamilton, Head of Scotland, for Save the Children said:

“These figures are shocking and illustrate that Scotland’s poorest are becoming even worse off. The highest jobless rate in Scotland is Glasgow North-East, an issue that must be addressed during the forthcoming by-election.  As a nation, we cannot let this continue”.

John Wilson MSP, for Central Scotland,who has previously worked to tackle child poverty in Scotland with Poverty Alliance said:

“From our perspective it is about trying to maximise income into households where there is child poverty and to increase opportunities for the children whilst trying find routes for the family out of poverty.”

The report not only shows stark figures for the traditionally poorer areas, as the typically more affluent areas such as West Aberdeenshire and East Lothian now recording an alarming increase of 100% in unemployment.

This week’s report hopes to kick start the government action on End Child Poverty’s “Recession Recovery Package”; the report that calls for the government to increase and maximise benefits for out of work and low-income parents to try and put them back on the path to recovery.

John Dickie, Head of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, in support of the “Recession Recovery Package”, said:

“This report shows that government can reduce child poverty even in a recession. It is vital for families across Scotland, and the rest of the UK, that the Chancellor uses the Pre-Budget Report to invest in the benefits and tax credits needed to protect our children from unemployment and poverty and to get the government back on track to hitting its child poverty targets”.

Esteemed social policy researcher and report author, Donald Hirsch, calls for change to make a difference to the future of children living in poverty:

“We couldn’t afford to let the banks fail and now we can’t afford to fail our children, our future. Rising unemployment in the UK has created a new poverty crisis which could leave children scarred for life and cost society some £25 billion a year. This dwarfs the £4 billion needed to hit the 2010 target.”

The Campaign to End Child Poverty report shows that government targets to reduce child poverty by 50% will not be met by 2010 with half a million more children likely to suffer deprivation next year.