19/06/2007

More than a million children affected by 'severe poverty'

Nearly 1.3 million children are living in severe poverty in the UK, a report by Save the Children has revealed.

The charity said that around one in ten children in the UK are now living in families where the income is so low that children are living without essentials like a proper diet or heating in the home.

Severe poverty meant that a couple with a child were living on an average of £7,000 a year - or less than £134 a week - which is well below the national average income of £19,000 a year.

This income would give a family £19 per day to cover electricity and gas, phones, other bills, food, clothes, washing, transport and health needs, as well as activities for children and all other essential items.

The charity's report found that London had the highest levels of severe poverty, with more than 1 in 6 children living in severe poverty.

It also found that 84% of families in severe poverty cannot make regular savings of £10 or more per month, while 74% cannot afford to replace any worn-out furniture.

Save the Children said that it was an "outrage" that in the UK, the fourth richest country in the world, parents were struggling to get by on such low incomes and children were missing out on basic things like living in a warm house, having a proper diet or going on a school trip.

Save the Children said that current predictions showed that the government could fail to meet their target on halving child poverty by 2010. The charity said that "radical action" was needed in order to tackle severe child poverty.

Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of Save the Children, said: "We can't let these children slip below the radar. They're the children who are hardest to reach, need the most help and the greatest investment to lift them out of poverty. As part of the campaign to End Child Poverty, Save the Children urges the government to tackle severe poverty now if it wants to stand a chance of meeting its target of halving child poverty by 2010."

Save the Children has called on the government to invest a further £4 billion to ensure that their target of halving child poverty by 2010 is met.

The charity has also called for the introduction of seasonal grants to help those on low incomes cover expensive times of the year, as well as the implementation of an action plan on severe child poverty, which would include policies targeted at those in severe need and the investment of significant resources to promote the take-up and knowledge of benefit and tax credit entitlements.

(KMcA/JM)






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