Dr Camilla Kingdon, Paediatrician and President of the RCPCH, said:
It is right that the Chancellor has announced action to support families with energy bills today. We know that many are already making stark choices between heating, eating or going into debt. Figures show hundreds of thousands of children are being pushed into poverty by soaring energy bills and inflation.
The impact of poverty and inequality on children’s health and wellbeing is undeniable. Child poverty exacerbates chronic conditions, obesity, and poor mental health. The impact of this will be felt far into the future. Even before the current crisis, children living in the most deprived communities fared worse than children in the least deprived.
The Chancellor’s temporary funding provided to families won’t go amiss, but for how long will it last? With costs set to continue to rise, alone it is not enough to address poverty and widening child health inequalities over the long-term.
The Chancellor has another spending opportunity in the autumn to do more for children and families; and we will continue to campaign for further action. In the meantime, the Government’s much anticipated white paper on Health Disparities is due, and it must include an explicit focus, with national targets, on reducing child poverty and child health inequalities and be published without delay. The Government must urgently put children at the heart of its policy making.
The future health of the nation depends on it.