Friday, July 14, 2017

Child Poverty - UK

“We can now confidently say that money itself matters and needs to be taken into account if we want to improve children’s outcomes,” says researcher, Kerris Cooper, of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics.. “We often focus on gaps at school – but what the evidence shows is that money doesn’t only make a difference to children’s cognitive outcomes, it also makes a difference to their physical health, to birth weight, and to social and behavioural development.”

Fifty-five of 61 studies carried out in eight countries over the past three decades showed increases in income to have a positive effect across a variety of measures. The strongest evidence points to causal relationship between income and cognitive gains: an increase of US$1,000 in the year 2000 (roughly £860 in today’s currency) is associated with an improvement of between 5 and 27% in the “standard deviation” – meaning 5 to 27% of the gap between a poor and an average child would be closed if the former’s family had its income increased by this amount. One US study, based on a randomised control trial also shows how increased income reduces the likelihood of abuse or neglect. Rresearchers and campaigners say the significance of findings based on so much high-quality evidence, about so many millions of people, cannot be overestimated.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, says the findings are a “hugely inconvenient truth for a government committed to implementing benefit cuts that are expected to tip more families into poverty and make already-poor families significantly worse off”. She adds: “When hard-up families have more money coming in, we know the extra is spent on fruit, vegetables, books, clothes and toys.”

Child poverty in the UK has increased sharply since 2013 following benefit cuts, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies forecasts a further 50% increase in relative child poverty between 2014/15 and 2020/21. Iit would take 40 years to close the gap between poor five-year-olds and their better-off peers.

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