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06 September 2012

Poverty in the UK affecting children

Poverty in the UK affecting children

Most people in debt feel they are unable to care for their children, according to a survey out this week.

Of Christians Against Poverty's (CAP) 1,500 clients, they found well over half felt they couldn't clothe their children properly and 18 per cent couldn't feed them.

The CAP report was released the same day as the announcement that, following their own survey, It Shouldn't Happen Here, Save the Children would be launching their first ever appeal to benefit UK children.

Save the Children's report showed that one in eight of the UK's 3.5 million children living in poverty (under £17,000 a year per family) go without at least one hot meal per day.

It also indicates the extent to which children are aware of their parents' financial difficulties. For example 52 per cent of children in Save the Children's survey said that not having enough money made parents stressed or unhappy.

Duncan, aged 13, explained: "My mum makes sacrifices so that I can do the hobbies I want to do to keep me off the streets. My mum cuts back on buying herself new shoes or clothes."

The reason for this poverty is often debt. Only 20 per cent of parents haven't had to borrow money to pay for essentials and as CAP's chief executive Matt Barlow describes: "Parents on low incomes can so easily fall into debt.

"It just takes something like a broken washing machine and a bit of easy credit and within weeks that family finds themselves servicing a debt with the little they have. That escalating pressure can have a very destructive impact on the whole family which means children suffer too."

CAP is a charity which is dedicated to offering help to people in debt, by offering counselling in more than 205 centres around the UK.

They offer their services to anyone, and even visit every one of their clients in their own home.

It is through these efforts that they hope to help children living in poverty in the UK: "Our charity, and I'm sure our supporters, would agree with Save the Children's report – it shouldn't be happening. Our message for parents in this situation is to start the school year by seeking free debt help."

The Church Urban Fund has also recently released information about the distribution of poverty in the UK.

Their new poverty mapping tool found that two thirds of children in Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle are born into poverty.

In some places, such as Moss Side in Manchester, they found child poverty levels of 65 per cent and life expectancy is up to 15 years lower than in other communities.

Paul Hackwood, the chair of trustees at the Church Urban Fund, said: "In child poverty terms, we live in one of the most unequal countries in the western world.

"We want people to understand where their own community sits alongside neighbouring communities. The disparity is often shocking but it's crucial that, through greater awareness, people from all backgrounds come together to think about what could be done to support those born into poverty."

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