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More children forced into poverty by Coalition spending cuts

  • @oliver_wright

Over half a million more children will be forced into poverty by the time of the next election because of the Government’s tax, benefit and spending changes, the Children’s Commissioner for England warns today.

New research for the Commissioner, analysing the effects of Coalition’s policies on young people, found that while families with children make up 32 per cent of working population they will bare over half the costs of the Government’s austerity drive.

As a result around three million children will be living in poverty by 2015 - 600,000 more than in 2010.

The report also concludes that on average, couples with children have experienced the largest losses in cash terms of any type of household.

It added that the poorest 10 per cent of families with children were experiencing average reductions in living standards equivalent to a fall of around 22 per cent in net income, while the richest ten per cent of families with children have seen an equivalent fall in net incomes of only around 7 per cent.

The Children's Commissioner for England was established under The Children Act 2004 to be the independent voice of children and young people.

Its current incumbent Maggie Atkinson said her reports findings made “uncomfortable reading”.

“We commissioned a team of experts to analyse the impact of benefit changes and fiscal measures in accordance with my statutory remit to promote and protect children’s rights,” she said.

“The result is the most comprehensive and accurate analysis we have to date on what exactly is happening to the poorest and some of the most vulnerable members of society. 

“It makes uncomfortable reading: they are getting progressively worse off and more children are entering poverty.  Ultimately, that means more children going without the basics because their parents and carers cannot afford them.”

The report concludes that the introduction of Universal Credit will go some way to offsetting the negative effects of fiscal measures and benefit reforms for some families, but will not cancel all the losses that families have experienced since 2010.

Ross Hendry, Director of Policy and Participation, in the Commissioner’s Office called on the Treasury to review the impacts of future measure on children.

“Children should not be asked to carry a disproportionate share of austerity measures,” he said.

“It is critical that provision is made now for the poorest children and young people so they have the same opportunities as others.”