Barnardo's says child poverty costs tens of billions

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The Independent Online

Long-term damage caused by child poverty and disadvantage is costing society billions of pounds and a major loss of human potential, according to a report published today.

Long-term damage caused by child poverty and disadvantage is costing society billions of pounds and a major loss of human potential, according to a report published today.

The study, by the children's charity Barnardo's, calculated the cost of social services, local authority care, criminal behaviour, housing benefit and special educational needs and concluded that earlier intervention into child poverty might have incurred just one-twentieth of the cost that society has actually paid for them.

Barnardo's is now challenging the Government to rethink policies that allow more than four million children in Britain to grow up in poverty, the cost of which the charity estimates could run into tens of billions.

The Government has pledged to lift one million children out of poverty by the end of this Parliament. Yet one-third of Europe's poorest children live in Britain; one in three children lives in poverty and one in five lives in a household in which no one works.

Mike Hughes, of Barnardo's, who is co-author of the report, said: "The Government is not doing enough. A crime is being done to these children. The waste of their lives is tragic and has a ripple impact on their families and those that come into contact with them."

He added: "Some families have been ground down by poverty for generations and the risk of the next generation losing out as well makes this a very bleak picture."

The report, Counting the Cost of Child Poverty, made detailed investigations into the lives of seven young people who have grown up in poverty. The failure to invest in these children earlier has cost society £1.24m, the reports says, compared with the £250,000 it would have cost to support them otherwise.

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