Sunday, August 25, 2013

Them and Us

Childhood poverty continues to increase in the UK, with at least 3.5 million kids living in relative poverty (one in four children), according to a new report, which is 1.5 million more than in 1969.

 Fiscal Studies analysis estimated that new changes to the tax and benefits system will force 600,000 more children into poverty by 2015 and by 2020 the total number of kids living in poverty is predicted to rise to 4.7 million. Children are considered to be living in relative poverty when their families’ income is below 60 percent of the median after housing costs have been included.

A child living in poverty is far more likely to be obese. Boys living in deprived areas are three times more likely to be obese than boys growing up in affluent areas, and girls are twice as likely. They suffer accidental injuries and are far less likely to do well in school.  Children from the poorest areas are nine times less likely than those living in affluent areas to have access to green space, places to play and to live in environments with better air quality.

Britain risks "sleepwalking into a world where inequality becomes so entrenched that our children grow up in a state of social apartheid", according to the leading charity National Children's Bureau. The report warns that Britain could become a place in which "children's lives are so polarised that rich and poor live in separate, parallel worlds".

The report states that such statistics divide the country, which “creates a 'them and us' society with far greater tensions,” adding that "the riots of the summer of 2011 were a warning of how easily these tensions can spiral out of control.” The National Children's Bureau ends the report with a warning: "The fact that the poverty and inequality experienced by our children remains just as prevalent today as it did nearly 50 years ago must not be ignored,” adding that “with cuts to services and welfare benefits now taking hold, those children living in low-income families are set to experience even greater hardship and the gap between them and others is set to grow even wider."

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