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Why are child poverty levels in the UK so high?

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Introduction

Why are child poverty levels in the UK so high? Britain is, by most international standards, a rich country with a high level of affluence-but millions of people live in households suffering from economic and social deprivation. According to Townsend's statistics on poverty 14 million individuals live in relative poverty in Britain today. This represents over a fifth of the population. Evidence suggests that certain groups in society are more likely to be found in this group than others. Ethnic minorities, the sick and the disabled, the elderly and people claiming benefits are all represented in this figure, which is why for some commentators, notably the New Right, those who live in poverty only have themselves to blame. However it can be argued that there are many factors that contribute to poverty. Child poverty levels in the UK in particular is a cause for concern, with factors such as lone parenthood, workless households and child care all of whom play a significant role in their contribution to the problem of child poverty. ...read more.

Middle

Inquiries by the Observer published in the article "shame of child poverty in UK" (2000) discovered the true cost to children of living in households without enough money. Children are eating main meals which consist of little more than toast and beans and rice pudding. Many live in terrible surroundings, with damp running down the walls and inadequate heating. Parents often cannot afford to buy new clothes as the little money they have is spent on food. Some lone parents have less than �100 a week with which to bring up their children and pay the bills. Poor nutrition leads to bad performance at school and worse health, with associated costs to the national health. It is not just the large number of children who are touched by poverty that are a problem, but also the numbers who are always poor. Data tracking child poverty over time also reveal that significant numbers of children are living in poverty year after year. ...read more.

Conclusion

Of course, poverty is much more than just missing out on certain bits of clothing or household equipment. There is also poverty of health and opportunity. These can be caused by poor housing, poor parenting, dropping out of school without qualifications or living on dangerous estates. Poor children often become poor adults, working for low pay, facing conflict with the police and greater chances of problems with drug and alcohol abuse. It can therefore be stated that poverty is a many-sided problem and therefore needs many-sided solutions. This has been accepted by the present government who have promised to wage war against poverty by creating routes into employment for families with children, improving childcare provision, financial support through the benefit system and tackling educational disadvantage (Sure Start and EDA) and poor health. The charity Child Poverty Action Group remains concerned that taking 20 years (a promise made by Tony Blair) to eradicate the problem of child poverty is not ambitious enough. It points out that it is far too early to know if many of the current government policies are actually working. Something only time can tell. ...read more.

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