Editor’s view - A better response

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We need to ensure we preserve our sense of horror at the effects of poverty on the growing number of families with young children

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Liz Roberts

The latest figures on levels of child poverty are shocking indeed, although it seems that our response has become almost accepting in the face of continuing stories about how desperate things are for many families in this country.

There are now 4.1 million children living below the poverty line, with more than half of those aged under five.

What is more, 70 per cent of these children live in working households – so much for the idea that it is ‘lazy’, unemployed parents causing problems rather than the ‘hard-working’ families beloved of the Government.

Yet the four-year freeze on children’s benefits will cast even more children into poverty in the next few years.

Schools and nurseries are doing what they can, despite their own funding struggles. One teaching union poll found that 40 per cent of teachers were providing items for children because of ‘Dickensian’ levels of poverty.

And a new Child Poverty Action Group publication details the hunger and stigma over food inflicted on children from low-income families at home, at school and in social settings.

The latest article in our Health & Well-Being series examines just how far nurseries are going to help alleviate the problems that their families are encountering (pages 16-17).

Running food banks and clothing banks is a common response, with settings doing their utmost to do this in the most respectful way possible.

The Government now plans to measure food-insecurity in its Family Resources Survey, but what will be done with the information?

Food banks and handouts are not a long-term solution to poverty, and we need to make sure that we preserve a sense of horror that this is now routine for many young and vulnerable children.

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