The Daily Mirror is calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to increase child benefit by £5 a week to end the scourge of child poverty.
Without action the number of kids in poverty in the UK is set to rise from 4.1million to 5.2million in the next two years.
Our Give Me Five campaign wants an immediate increase in child benefit – a move which would lift 200,000 children out of destitution.
We also want the Government to restore child tax credits, to scrap the two-child limit and to axe the benefit cap.
Our campaign – launched ahead of next week’s Budget – is backed by charities, including End Child Poverty, politicians and union leaders.
Punitive welfare policies, low wages and soaring housing costs have pushed more and more families below the breadline.
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Since the Tories came to power in 2010 child poverty has soared by more than half a million from 3.6 million to 4.1 million.
Shocking statistics show seven in ten children (2.9million) in poverty are in working households.
And two out of three children of single parents are in poverty.
These figures are set to rise because of the government’s benefit policies. The two child limit – which limits benefits to the first two children, no matter how many there are in the family – has pushed 592,000 children in 157,000 families into poverty since it was introduced in 2017.
On current trends it will cause another 300,000 kids into poverty by 2023/24.
Read more about our Give Me Five campaign here
The benefit cap – which limits the amount families can receive to £442.31 a week in London and £384.62 in the rest of the country – has left 114,337 single parents worse off.
The Child Poverty Action Group says increasing child benefit, axing the two-child limit, restoring tax credits and scrapping the benefit cap would lift 700,000 children out of poverty at a cost of £8.3billion – less than a tenth of the price of the £106billion HS2 bill.
Child benefit is worth £20.70 a week for the eldest child and £13.70 for other children.
Since the Tories came to power in 2010 it has fallen in value by 23% and is now worth half the amount in real terms since it was introduced in 1979.
To sign our petition calling on Boris Johnson to increase child benefit click here
A £5 a week increase would see families gain £340 a year on average and immediately lift 200,000 children out of poverty.
It would cost the Treasury £2.7billion.
Pressure has intensified on Mr Johnson to act after the Scottish Government said it was introducing a £10 child benefit supplement for the poorest families from next year.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said more children are in poverty today than 50 years ago.
He says on “current trends 5.2 million children in the UK – one in every three – will be consigned to poverty by 2022, more than at any time in the Thatcher-Major years.”
Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group said: “We’re a country that wants every child to thrive. But child poverty is rising – not falling.
“That should ring alarm bells for every politician because it will damage children’s well- being, their chances in life and the country’s economy.
“The Mirror is bang on when it says we must reinvest in child benefit. An extra five pounds a week per child would make a big difference to the families who are struggling most.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “No child in Britain should be growing up in poverty. But millions of parents are struggling to feed and clothe their kids. That is not right.
“I would urge politicians of all parties to get behind the Mirror’s campaign. Child poverty is a stain on our nation’s conscience. It urgently needs fixing.”
Action for Children’s director of policy and campaigns, Imran Hussain, added: “It’s great to see the Mirror getting behind these families and urging the government to throw them the lifeline they desperately need.”
Judith Cavanagh, Coordinator for the End Child Poverty coalition said: “Ending child poverty in the UK is entirely possible and is what we, as a just and compassionate society, expects.
"It simply isn’t right that in 2020, the year that child poverty was meant to have been eradicated, that poverty continues to restrict children so that they do less well in school, experience worse physical and mental health and have fewer opportunities in the future.
"We fully support the Mirror’s campaign to call on the Government to tackle child poverty head on, as without a comprehensive child poverty strategy we will continue to watch child poverty rise.
"With ambitious policy making – like an increase to child benefit – we could see child poverty decline during this Parliament. This must be an ambition that politicians and public share.”
The UK ranks as one of the worst countries for child poverty in Europe, figures from the EU-funded Eurochild show.
Around 4.3 million children are at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the UK, a rate of 29.9%, which is more than double that of some of our European neighbours.
Only Italy (30.6%), Greece (33.3%), Bulgaria (33.7%) and Serbia (35.9%), Romania (38.1%) and North Macedonia (45.9%) ranked worse. In France 22.9% of children are at risk of poverty, while in Germany the figure is 17.3%.
Denmark (15.2%), the Netherlands (15.2%), the Czech Republic (13.2%) and Slovenia (13.1%) ranked amongst the lowest rates of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
This is despite Slovenia’s national GDP being around 50 times smaller than the UK’s.
Eurochild’s report is one of a number in recent years which has highlighted the growing issue of child poverty in this country.
The Joshua Rowntree Foundation, The English Indices of Social Deprivation, and the Social Metrics Commission all drew similar conclusions.
The United States has an average child poverty rate of 21% according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, a figure about equal to the EU average.
The exact methods of recording poverty vary greatly between and within nations – an issue of great contention because of how some see different measurements being used for political goals.
The UK government often uses the measurement of absolute poverty, a measurement which produces far lower poverty rates than the more commonly used relative poverty.
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