Save The Children is appealing for money for families in the UK for the first time and is calling on the Government to encourage more employers to pay the living wage, to strengthen the Universal Credit by allowing working parents to keep more of their earnings before benefits are withdrawn and to help parents afford to work by providing extra childcare support to cover 80% of costs.
The charity says the UK’s poorest children are bearing the greatest burden of the recession – having their parents go hungry to feed them, missing regular hot meals, unable to afford warm coats and new shoes and suffering enormous emotional strain.
In a new report “It Shouldn’t Happen Here”, the charity highlights children’s – as well as parents’ – experiences living in recession-hit Britain.
One in eight of the poorest children in the UK go without at least one hot meal a day, and one in ten of the UK’s poorest parents have cut back on food for them to make sure their children have enough to eat, the report reveals. Many of the families are in work.
The survey finds that children worry about their family not having enough money, with more than half of those living in poverty saying the lack of cash made their parents unhappy or stressed. Almost a quarter of the poorest parents say they are arguing more or snap at their children because of their money troubles.
One in seven of the poorest children surveyed say they have to go without a warm winter coat and new shoes when they need them. And nearly a fifth of children living in poverty say they miss out on school trips because their parents haven’t got the money. Some 80% of poorer parents admitted that they were borrowing more money for essentials such as food and clothes.
Save the Children spoke to more than 1,500 youngsters and 5,000 parents for the report. The charity says it’s aiming to raise £500,000 to help its work in the UK, targeting the poorest children.
Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s Chief Executive, said: “No child should see their parent going hungry or start the new term without a warm coat and with holes in their shoes. Poverty is tearing families apart, with parents buckling under the pressure of mounting bills and children seeing their parents argue more about money. That’s why for the first time in our history we are launching a UK appeal. We need to help poor families survive the recession.”
She added: “Given that most children living in poverty have at least one parent in work; it is appalling that those parents can’t earn enough to give themselves and their kids a decent life. All working parents should be able to earn enough to meet the basic needs of their children. The Government must make work pay by encouraging more employers to introduce a living wage, provide extra childcare support to help parents trying to get into work and protect the poorest and most disadvantaged from further cuts.”