How UK children are paying the price for the economic downturn

'Where is there a minister responsible for children's issues?'

Health Editor

Although the UK is a better place in which to grow up than it was six years ago it is in danger of slipping back down the international league as a result of benefit cuts and reductions in social care, the British Medical Association says.

The UK came bottom of the table of 21 countries for child well being in 2007 drawn up by UNICEF but had moved up to 16th out of 29 countries in 2009/10.

However, the improved rating does not reflect policies implemented by the coalition government since the election in 2010, the BMA says.

In a new report, "Growing up in the UK", the associaiton says that changes to the tax and benefits system will hit vulnerable households hardest, worsen child poverty and widen social inequalities.

The Government denied the claim and said its welfare reforms would help the poorest families.

According to the BMA, international surveys show more children and young people are dying in the UK than in other countries in Europe and a record number of children were taken into care in 2010/11, for whom costs are enormous and the outlook poor.

Professor Averil Mansfield, chair of the BMA's Board of Science, said: "Children need to be at the heart of everything we do. While there has been some progress I find it shocking that for a society that considers itself to be child friendly we consistently underperform in international rankings".

In 2007, David Cameron, then leader of the opposition, responded to Britain's poor ranking in the UNICEF table by pledging to make it "the most family friendly country in the developed world."

Instead, the coalition government set about dismantling measures introduced by the previous Labour government, Professor Sir Al Aynsley Green, former Children's Commissioner, said.

"There is a lack of commitment to children's issues. Where is there a minister responsible for children's issues? Responsibility and accountability is not there," he said.

The report, an update of the BMA's 1999 report, says that the coalition government's policies are "unlikely to be described by health policy analysts as family friendly."

It adds: "Cuts to child benefit, Sure Start centres closures and regressive tax policies have differentially affected women and children. The Welfare Reform Act and Health and Social Care Act arguably will have profoundly deleterious effects on the most vulnerable patients."

Vivienne Nathanson, director of professional activities at the BMA, said action was needed to address child poverty , provide parenting courses for at risk families and improve education on healthy eating.

"We have made significant gains in changing attitudes to tobacco, we need to make similar gains in attitudes to alcohol and food. A complete ban on advertising for some foods should at least be considered "

The report says the "responsibility deals" with the alcohol and food industries, in which companies determine strategy jointly with government, have failed.

"It is essential that Government moves away from partnership with industry and looks at effective alternatives to self-regulation," it says.

Dr Nathanson said: "Government has got to set the strategy for what they are going to do and then talk to industry about how they can help implement it. What does not work is sitting down with industry to develop strategy. Industry will only agree to interventions that don't affect the bottom line and most effective interventions do affect the bottom line."

A Government spokesperson said: "There's a lot of misleading stories about the effects of our tax and benefit changes.  The truth is, our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with the Universal Credit making three million household better off and lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. And by next year, we will have taken two million of the lowest earners out of paying tax altogether.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam