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 495.

    It's absolutely appaling to read some of the comments on here, the same old stereotypes trotted out about people on benefits having the latest mobile phones and takeaways every night. If you want to cut off poor people then shame on you. You'd rather turn your back on them and cover your eyes with your daily mail

  • rate this

    Comment number 494.

    "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."

    No harm in having a few less McRonnies in my view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 493.

    These reports make me really cross "eradicate child poverty". Poor children are the product of poor familities, the cause of one cannot be addressed without adddressing the other, but yet, conversely, the state throws money at workless households, who often live better lifestyles than working households. Its is a failure of successive governments to address the root cuases.

  • rate this

    Comment number 492.

    479. RealityStrikes
    I think you will find that it's far cheaper, and much healthier, to prepare a child's meal from scratch with fresh ingredients

  • rate this

    Comment number 491.

    "The government said it was committed to eradicating child poverty"

    The government "says" alot of things ..

    What it "does" is give tax cuts to the wealthy

    Arent all these soulless individuals who continue calling for cuts that effect the poorest in society, whilst advocating more to be given to the wealthy & greedy embarrassed by this? Probably not, they would need to acquire a conscience first

  • rate this

    Comment number 490.

    461.Rebecca Riot
    I normally find your ranting hatred of capitalism, the rich and Tories somewhat tedious and bordering on an unacceptable level of bigotry but.....

    "No family with children earning less than £20,000 pa, should have to pay income tax."

    ....on occasion you do have some truly altruistic and brilliant views! I'd give you a million votes up for that one if I could!

  • rate this

    Comment number 489.

    To have children when you cannot afford to look after them properly should be classified as child abuse!
    To run a country when you are not able to do it properly because you are incompetent schould be classified as abuse of the electorate. Yes, I do mean that bloke that forgot his own daughter in a pub.

  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    "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"

    While those that caused the recession are being paid huge bonuses, huge salaries, huge pensions and huge benefits.

    This is totally SICK and disgusting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 487.

    unfortunately it is true... most people do make a career out of breeding feckless kids .

    Unfortunately that is untrue. What you call "making a career" is simply them trying to get by. If you can't see their problem is that they see no hope for anything better, then you won't be able to contribute anything useful to the debate and certainlynot to the solution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 486.

    jealousy and envy ?
    Bankers and super rich are 11% better off after causing this mess.
    Yet its children disabled low paid who is being attacked?
    this country's had it try thinking and watch less x factor people

  • Comment number 485.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 484.

    Selfish gene Tories are doing very well by deliberate misgovernment. They have no intention of getting economy going again & because they can sieze bankrupt assets for pennies. Accumulating wealth into hands of tiny minority is what it is all about.

    Meanwhile, poor children go without shoes, parents miss meals, while the right wing rich grin at their predicament. They enjoy seeing poverty!

  • rate this

    Comment number 483.

    To have children when you cannot afford to look after them properly should be classified as child abuse!

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    @476 allan

    Remind me just what did Labour do with their 13 years at the helm, apart from throw money at feckless people to stay at home and breed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    For all you political doom & gloomers. The labour govnt had 7+yrs good times and spent when should have saved - even Joseph and Technicolour dreamcoat knew that. Tories trying to rebuild country on a shoestring!

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.

    I work full time and earn only 15 k a year ,i manage to feed 5 of us very well and have fresh food every day ,i how ever do not have sky tv or contract phones , like some of the friends i have do , there is no need to have poverty amognst children now , the parents need to stop spending on themselves ,cigs and booze , mobile phones , new clothes and spend the money on their kids !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    To answer my own question @320, according to the McDonalds website, the claim that they don't serve under 18's is a hoax. I'm pleased that children's most obvious access to hot cooked food in the UK remains open. Sneer & negatively rate if you like, but look at it from the perspective of families with limited money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 478.

    I wonder if a tory mp , lost their job , had no money , no connections could not get a job and had to survive on unemployment benefit and watch their kids suffer as a result . Just how long before that ex tory mp , would be shouting their head off in regard to the garbage that their party deems appropriate for others in a similar position to be treated like - about 5 minutes I would say ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    The old adage is true.

    Lets stop giving millions in overseas aid, including the £14Bn we give each yr to the EU as membership fee for a club of corruption and jobs for the boys

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    This tory govt dont give a damn in the working classes and their children. Poverty is on the increase because they look after the rich and let the poor or the lowish order to scrape along and get the crumbs off the rich mans table.This governments policy is the same as Wellingtons - he stated the people are rotten to the core and it is a dangerous experiment to look after and educate them


Page 19 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.