With the sixth-largest economy in the world, the United Kingdom has vast financial resources. Despite its economic strength, however, child poverty in the United Kingdom is a severe and growing problem.
Child Poverty in the UK
More than four million children live in child poverty in the United Kingdom, which accounts for nearly a third of children in the U.K. A child is considered to be in poverty when they live with a family whose income is less than 60% of the United Kingdom’s national average. For such a wealthy country, this is a staggering statistic.
Child poverty is becoming even more problematic. The rates of child poverty in the United Kingdom are expected to rise from four million to five million in 2020. There are a variety of reasons for the increase in poverty. Some of these include rises in living costs with lower labor wages, leaving parents having to choose between essential goods and services and feeding their children.
Does Employment Solve Poverty?
Poverty affects children, even when their parents are employed. Two out of three children living in poverty have a parent who is employed. A recent report highlighted the government’s role in child poverty, noting its increased cutting of social services since 2010. By enforcing work as a solution to poverty, the government essentially dismantled much of the social support systems upon which many citizens rely. Despite record levels of employment, one-fifth of people are in poverty, showing the limiting effects of work on decreasing poverty.
Child Poverty and Minorities
The impacts of child poverty in the United Kingdom are widespread and affect minority groups the most. Children who face poverty are more likely to struggle in academic environments, impacting their ability to find employment later in life, leading to lower wages, an increased likelihood of imprisonment for men and becoming a single parent for women. Children from minority groups, mainly Pakistani and Bangladeshi, are most likely to suffer from child poverty in the United Kingdom.
There are charitable organizations addressing child poverty in the United Kingdom. While the government has cut social services funding, Buttle UK, a charitable organization, provides funds for desperate families who need to buy necessary household items. Of the 10,000 families it helped in 2017, over 3,000 of them used the money to buy beds for their children. Buttle UK estimates that hundreds of thousands of children could be without their own bed in what it calls “bed poverty.” Although the government has cut social services funding, fortunately, organizations like Buttle UK have helped thousands of families and their children every year.
The United Kingdom has many governmental and financial resources with its economic fortitude; however, the cutting of social services has been problematic for many families struggling with a lack of resources. Consequently, millions of children live in poverty, even when their parents are working and trying to provide for them. Fortunately, charities like Buttle UK are addressing some of the difficulties that children face in dire circumstances. Hopefully, with more awareness and support for social services, child poverty in the United Kingdom will soon subside.
– Eliza Cochran