The new research reveals that half a million more children are having their lives limited by poverty today than at the start of the decade, with more than half of children growing up in poverty in some constituencies. The highest rises in child poverty have been seen in impoverished areas, with the highest levels seen in big cities.
The data highlight how worrying levels of child poverty vary across Britain - and show that poverty is on the rise, and rising fastest in places where it is already highest.
Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said:
These latest statistics show the gap between rich and poor widening, and that is extremely frightening not just for child health now, but for our future population.
Child poverty doesn’t just determine whether a child can attend a school trip or have a safe and warm place to sleep. There is so much more to it. Left unaddressed, poverty can alter the trajectory of a child’s entire life. We know children living on or below the breadline are more likely to develop mental health issues, be overweight or obese and die early. They are also more likely to misuse substances.
The Government has prioritised child health in recent months with bold plans set out to tackle obesity and support those with mental health difficulties. However, much of this good work will be undone without inequalities being addressed. An ambitious and credible child poverty reduction strategy, as set out by the coalition today, will help achieve this, but with no targeted help provided for children and families experiencing poverty and continued cuts to early years services, this progress risks being derailed. The Government must reverse these cuts urgently otherwise ensuring a healthy future for our children and future population, will be impossible to grasp.