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As second lockdown begins, charities urge government to tackle child poverty

Prime minister Boris Johnson has been urged to do more to protect vulnerable children from a ‘winter of hunger and hardship’ by leading children’s charities.

Action for Children, Barnardo’s, NSPCC, NCB and The Children’s Society have united to call for the government to work with them to establish short and longer-term measures to help vulnerable children through the challenging period ahead.

Mark Russell, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “The number of children living in poverty is growing each year, with three in every ten children now affected. This is unacceptable and the government must act now.

“The Prime Minister talks of building back better, we want him to prove this is more than just a slogan. Children must be put at the heart of recovery and we would urge him to move forward with our suggestions to tackle the endemic issues of poverty.

“Every child deserves a future full of promise but the Covid crisis is jeopardising the hopes and chances of young people in this country, that’s why we must work together to ensure every child can thrive,” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already disproportionally affected low income families, with many experiencing income and job losses, while also facing the increased expenses of having children at home while schools were closed. As the country is going back into lockdown today, the challenges families face are likely to intensify.

Public support for tackling child poverty is at an all-time high, and the charities are asking the prime minister to stand by his commitment to make sure that no child goes hungry this winter and to work with them to improve support for struggling families.

The charity’s leaders have urged the government to do more to stop poverty and inequality hampering children’s life chances and say the government must tackle the widespread problems and create an overarching strategy to reduce them.

The chief executives propose a number of solutions including extending the provision of free school meals, investing more in children’s services, improving the welfare system and tackling educational inequalities.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: "The COVIID-19 pandemic has exacerbated deep-rooted inequalities in our society, and threatens to set vulnerable children back further.

“The crisis is wreaking havoc on children’s mental health and wellbeing, putting more at risk at home, online and in the community, and means more families face a winter struggling to pay for food and fuel. Those living in digital poverty are falling further behind with their education and missing out on key opportunities. Some groups face additional risks, like children caring for unwell relatives, young people leaving the care system, and those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

“Today’s young generation face extremely complex challenges, and the pandemic must be a catalyst for real change. We stand ready to work with the government to design the short and longer-term solutions that will give the most vulnerable children the best possible chance of a positive future,” he added.

WillisPalmer has long been concerned about the impact of lockdown on vulnerable families and we launched our Children’s Charter in September calling for vulnerable children to be supported as they returned to school. This was updated last week reflecting on the situation for vulnerable children after one term back at school .

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