Christmas is coming…the meter’s running down

Posted by Chloe Hardy / Thursday 24 December 2015 / Cost of living

Over a third of parents regularly struggle to make their money last to the end of the month, according to research by Action for Children. Around half have cut back on themselves to afford essentials like food, clothes and transport for their children.


If parents in general are struggling, imagine what it’s like for people on the lowest incomes. It’s harder to provide a warm, safe and healthy home for your children. They are also denied the activities that their school friends take for granted. School trips, birthday parties or socialising become difficult when there’s no money to join in.


In 2010, politicians of all parties came together to make a promise – they would tackle child poverty and they would do it by 2020. While debate continued about how we should measure poverty, the shared sense of purpose was hopeful and inspiring.


Just six years on, the Child Poverty Act (which set targets and required action) is being dismantled. It is being replaced by the Life Chances Act. Income will no longer be a way to measure poverty. Indeed, poverty will no longer be measured. Instead the Government will measure ‘life chances’ in the form of GCSE results and the number of children living in workless households.

We agree that poverty is more complex than simply how much money you have – but it’s an important factor. A child with parents in work and decent GCSE results could still have grown up in poverty: their health affected by a cold, damp home; their academic potential affected because they had no space to do homework; their confidence and self-esteem low because they were bullied by other children who sensed the stigma of being poor.


In 2016, the Government has a chance for a fresh start when it comes to child poverty. It can build on the positive ideas in a Life Chances Act – looking at the things that increase our opportunities in adult life – but recommit to a definition of poverty that includes money.


As part of the End Child Poverty Coalition, we are calling on the Government to measure income as part of the way it monitors ‘life chances’. We believe money matters when it comes to a decent childhood.


You can help. Email a Member of the House of Lords today.


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