Increased child poverty needs long term fix, says MP

Young teenager Labour's Graham Allen says increased child poverty can be tackled through "early intervention"

There's always something rather Dickensian and Mr Micawber about the issue of child poverty.

But for an increasing number of families in 21st Century Britain, this is no Victorian fiction.

According to the Save the Children charity, one in four parents has missed a meal in the past year in order to feed their children.

Their figures claim poverty - going without food, new clothes and struggling to pay for fuel and rent - affects a quarter of all children.

Wake-up call

In the East Midlands, 35% of children in Nottingham and 32% in Leicester are considered to be living in poverty.

The report is a tough read and a wake-up call for policy makers.

Child poverty rates

Mother and child
  • Bethnal Green & Bow - 51%
  • Birmingham Ladywood - 46%
  • Manchester Blackley - 41%
  • Nottingham North - 39%
  • Source: Centre for Research in Social Policy, Loughborough University

It's the latest warning to government about a rise in child poverty as the recession continues to bite.

Another report goes much further.

Social policy researchers at Loughborough University have produced a child poverty map of the UK.

It highlights Nottingham North as one of the 10 parliamentary constituencies in Britain with the highest levels of child poverty.

The research claims 39% of children are living in poverty.

The other parliamentary seats range from Birmingham, Ladywood; Bethnal Green and Bow, to Manchester, Blackley.

It's not a league table any MP would want to find their constituency mentioned in.

Early intervention

Nottingham North's Labour MP, Graham Allen, is understandably worried about any increase in child poverty.

Start Quote

It needs a long term strategic view by government to help the children and lift them out of poverty”

End Quote Graham Allen MP (Lab)

But when I interviewed him at Westminster, he resisted simply blaming the coalition government.

Instead, he urged ministers to take longer term solutions.

In political shorthand, this is his campaign for the government to fully embrace his "early intervention" thinking.

"What we have here is inter-generational deprivation," he said. (For more on early intervention, read by blog posting from 13 July last year).

"There is no real quick-fix. It needs a long term strategic view by government to help the children and lift them out of poverty."

Tax credit

In the House of Commons, David Cameron was put on the spot about increasing child poverty.

Start Quote

We are targeting help on the poorest families in the country through the tax credit system”

End Quote Prime Minister David Cameron

He was challenged by Wirral South Labour MP, Alison McGovern, over "the indignity" of families relying on food banks run by charities.

"We are targeting help on the poorest families in the country through the tax credit system," he told MPs.

He also took the opportunity to praise the Big Society volunteers and charities who were providing food parcels for families on the bread-line.

So is this the end of the matter?

There are wholesale changes to the benefits system from next year.

The issue of child poverty could find David Cameron and his government on the defensive... unless like Mr Micawber, the Prime Minister hopes that something will turn up.

John Hess, Political editor, East Midlands Article written by John Hess John Hess Political editor, East Midlands

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  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    the reason we have child poverty today if there is any because the labour party created it,
    it is a myth in this country,
    the labour party will try to make you believe it is real,
    and yes it may be in the feckless families that spend their income/benefits on bingo/booze /fags and drugs,
    child poverty is created by the parent and the over ambitious MP who believes in what he reads in books

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    While all parties wine and dine in the wine cellar. The rest of us have to deal with making ends meet. Greedy landlords with mouldy substandard housing. No one can afford the big six prices hikes anyway but hey give them a tax break! Everyone hurting especially the lower classes. Show some compassion and honour for others less well off than yourselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    You vote Tory, you get poverty, high unemployment, low wages & homelessness. It's nothing new. This has happened time and time again when we have a Tory government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Child poverty can occur when the benefit's system fails those who need it most. I've been shocked to hear a friends story, a mother of 4 children under 8, who's husband survived 2 life saving ops is now being made destitute by a benefits system that simply doesn't work. Please read and share Tamsyn's story - you can read her plea for help here

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    poverty is relative too society's expectations and this society expects a lot for nothing in return
    to cheer up the propaganda mongers

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I agree with #1 entirely.

    The parents of today were raised by lazy, incompetent parents, and are now miserably failing their own children.

    The blame lies in the attitudes of government in the 60s and 70s to "Do what you want". The solution is to make benefits available as vouchers, not cash, that can be spent on the right stuff, not what the idiot parents think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I can only assume that it's Eton Dave making the comment below. Which is exactly the sort of propaganda that the Tory party would like the voting population to believe.
    I was an IT contractor till the Credit Crunch hit. Now I regularly miss meals to stretch the food budget. I grow my own veg and keep chickens as it's cheaper. I dont drink or smoke, and have no social life. Wake up Dave !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    child poverty in Britain today
    stuff and nonsense
    child abuse by benefit dependant parents who consider bingo and fags and booze and drugs along with sky tv is probably the real reason why children are going without,
    you left wing hand wringers need to stop believing what you read in books and get down and dirty with the real world.
    idealist dreamers tch tch



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