Save the Children urges action for poorest UK children

Father and daughter outside house Families on the lowest incomes are struggling to make ends meet, says Save the Children

Related Stories

The charity Save the Children, best known for helping some of the world's poorest families, has launched an appeal to help UK children.

The charity says the UK's poorest children are bearing the brunt of the recession, with some missing out on regular hot meals or new shoes.

The campaign urges the government to focus on benefits for low-paid families and ask employers to pay a living wage.

The government said it was committed to eradicating child poverty.

Researchers for Save the Children surveyed more than 1,500 children aged eight to 16 and more than 5,000 parents, focusing on the lowest income groups.

The study draws on Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) figures which estimate that there are 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK and predict a steep rise in the numbers in coming years.

Sarah from Devon

I'm 40 and have three children, aged 14, seven and three. My husband and I earn less than £17,000 a year as self-employed bookkeepers.

Our food bill has gone up in the last few years from £70 a week to £130 a week - due to inflation.

I can't provide nutritious meals for my kids all week. Fruit doesn't last long. We try our best, but I rely on tax credits.

I haven't looked at food banks. We'd be too proud. While we can afford baked beans, soup and cereal we'll get by.

I try to plan so that we get one evening meal together a night, but we've moved to having side plate portions.

Once every two days me, my husband or both of us leave without breakfast and have a packet of crisps at lunchtime to keep us going.

We're living hand-to-mouth.

The charity defines living in poverty as having a family income of less than £17,000 a year.

More than half the parents in poverty surveyed (61%) said they had cut back on what they ate and more than a quarter (26%) had skipped meals in the past year.

Just under a fifth (19%) said their children sometimes had to go without new shoes when they needed them.

Financial strain

Some 19% of children in poverty said they had missed out on school trips and 14% said they did not have a warm coat to wear in the winter.

The report, It Shouldn't Happen Here, also reveals the extent to which children are aware of how much financial strain their parents are under with more than half (58%) saying they thought it was getting harder for their parents to pay for everything.

Some 52% of the poorest children agreed that not having enough money made their parents unhappy or stressed and 43% 'strongly agreed' that their parents were cutting back on things for themselves such as clothes or food.

Parents on the lowest incomes agreed they were more likely to snap at their children (23%) because of money worries compared with better off parents (10%).

The report quotes last month's Department for Work and Pensions figures which showed 61% of children in poverty had working parents. It urges the government to encourage more employers to pay above the minimum wage so that workers can provide for their families.

"Mummy doesn't eat so there's enough for us"

It says the new Universal Credit system should let working parents keep more of their earnings before benefits are withdrawn and urges the government to pay 80% of childcare costs for the poorest families.

Justin Forsyth, Save the Children's chief executive, said: "Poverty is tearing families apart, with parents buckling under the pressure of mounting bills and children seeing their parents argue more about money.

"We need to help poor families survive the recession."

He added: "Given that most children living in poverty have at least one parent in work; it is appalling that those parents can't earn enough to give themselves and their kids a decent life.

"The government must make work pay by encouraging more employers to introduce a living wage, provide extra child care support to help parents trying to get into work and protect the poorest and most disadvantaged from further cuts."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "Despite £150bn being poured into benefits and tax credits over the last decade, the previous government's approach to tackling child poverty has failed, with the UK missing its own 2010 child poverty targets.

"The government remains committed to eradicating child poverty, but we want to take a new approach by tackling the root causes including worklessness, educational failure and family breakdown.

"And our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with the Universal Credit simplifying the complex myriad of benefits and lifting 350,000 children and 550,000 adults out of poverty."

Commenting on the campaign during Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron said: "We are making sure we target help on the poorest families in our country, which is what we have done through the tax credit system.

"At the same time, I think we should praise all voluntary and big society efforts to help the poorest families in our country as well."

Save the Children aims to raise £500,000 from the charity appeal to help boost low income children's school careers and provide basic essentials such as cookers, furniture or toys for their families.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    englishvote - you highlight a characteristics of poverty. It hides amongst affluence. A boy who helped my son with Maths gaining two distinctions in his GCSE's is working as a roofing labourer to help at home. The family are stricken due to redundancies.Poverty is all around you. You just have to stop looking the other way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    Only in the UK could we have an increase in child poverty during a child obesity epidemic

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    405. Name Number 6
    media studies

    Journalism is not media studies! As a law student one would think you would be familiar with this! And your telling me you have two children as I did when I completed my course and you managed uni almost everyday, the commute , and to work weekends evenings and holidays! well I have to hand it to you, your good at being in more than one place at a time!

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    No such thing as child poverty in the UK. Just a silly statistical device for use by game playing charities, politicians.
    No school trips lucky them! This in in no way any aspect of poverty, just a lower attainable level I want. Hot meals? Pull the other one tin of beans cost pence, on toast a perfect nutritional meal.
    Perhaps they need teaching, not to spend badly? Their life choice of children

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    I think one of the reasons why there is such a large underclass in this country who have never worked is simply because they are too fat and unfit to work.
    It's not because of eating lots of potatoes: contrary to what many people think potatoes are an excellent food source containing many essential vitamens, carbohydrates, minerals and fibre and even some protein.
    Just ask the Irish!

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    Men have to accept their part. Not simply feckless parents - sadly it's more likely to be the feckless men. Or those self employed who deceive the CSA about their income to drive down their financial responsibility and leave their children in poverty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    Nonsense, no child in this country starves, families especially those who don't work are given lots of benefits. They should be not paid to have more than say 2 kids instead of chucking more money at them. The so called deprived families I see have more money than me - Eating out, Mobile phones, bicycles, you name it. It's time people without kids were helped, we REALLY struggle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    All I read is Government's fault, disgusting fat-cat wages - shameful in our country.
    The problem is the people breeding whom then cannot afford to raise their children, and then having more to get bigger houses and more child benefit.
    Totally cancel Child Benefit and introduce "means tested procreation", if you can afford it then you can have children.
    China have the right idea!

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    In the Rhondda it's a rite of passage for certain elements in society,i.e the feckless,to leave school without even bothering to take your GCSE's and then follow your mothers example,get pregnant,get kicked out and the council will find you somewhere to live.Then all the poor saps like me can then look after them for the rest of their days.What a joke the welfare state has turned into.

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    Gina Rinehart (richerst woman in the world) calls for Australian wage cut.

    Bernard Jenkin, a Conservative MP, has claimed £50,000 on his expenses to rent his sister-in-law’s farmhouse, just over the road from a country home part-owned by his wife.

    As a senior Conservative MP he condemned as "the politics of envy" that the wealthiest people in Britain should pay more tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    389. pintsizedgirlie

    Did your course infact run almost everyday , was it a 3 hour round trip. Was it infact a Journalism course that required hours of outside work including sourcing and interviewing for your own news stories? no I didn't think so !
    2 hour round commute a day, lectures and tutorials every day hours and hours of independent study as it was a Law degree and not media studies

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.


    302. alexicon “ the way round it is to reduce the gap between rich and poor”
    Fundementally wrong! This is the argument of jealousy and envy touted by the left. "

    The 'happiest' countries, and those with lowest crime and lowest social problems, have the narrowest wealth gap. Google it. Almost all revolutions have been triggered by wealth inequality - it matters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    It's not good for children to grow up in poverty, so why are people who are not able to support even themselves having children?

    -It must be brilliant to have 20:20 Foresight

    Being able to predict with 100% certainty the economy,your employment opportunities and your health for the next 20Years is obviously simple.

    Over Half of the families with children in Poverty have parents who work

  • Comment number 402.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    At all times, remember folks this is RELATIVE POVERTY and claiming to have any other type of poverty in the UK is grossly offensive to those living in actual poverty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    This is the argument of jealousy and envy touted by the left.
    To dismiss an argument as "jealousy" and "envy" is the resort of someone who has no leg to stand on. It is school playground stuff, not something an adult would use in a debate/conversation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    @380. mo. YOU'RE wrong.

    If the rich have all the money, then how are the poor going to earn any? THERES NONE TO EARN!! YOU'VE GOT IT ALL!!

    Just a simple bit of thought could get a lot of you people lightyears ahead of where their current IQ is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    Sad, very sad when children are dying of starvation all over the world and politicians play silly games

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    61% of british children living in poverty are from working families. Unfortunately this is a percentage my family falls into. working full time for minimum wage, despite having a degree. my children often have to go without. there are few if any luxuries for them to boast of. it is frustrating to think that despite my best efforts my children are growing up in poverty with new shoes a luxury

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    I see many are falling for the benefits hype, try living on it and see if you have the same opinion. By the way around 80% of money that is spent on welfare is pensions.Its £67 a week on Job seekers some spend that twice on a meal out and moan about others. Torys as normal turn the UK against its self.


Page 23 of 43


More Education & Family stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.