Headlines: November 12th, 2003

The government is facing calls today to invest in children by introducing a guaranteed minimum wage for all those bringing up families and ensuring its policies reach the most vulnerable and poorest children in society. The call come from Barnardo’s, Britain’s largest children’s charity, which is launching a brand new campaign to highlight the fact that despite having the fourth largest economy in the world the UK has one of the highest levels of child poverty of all industrialised countries.Research shows 3.8 million children – that is one in three – are living in poverty. The charity has published a report called “Poverty Wrecks Futures”, which shows the outcomes for children born into impoverished families. It says poverty is at the root of the majority of the diverse problems that Barnardo’s helps young people and their families to cope with everyday.

The report says poverty is cyclical and that recent research has found that most people remain in the same quarter of income distribution as their parents. The chance of being better off than their parents has reduced for people who grew up in the 1970s and ’80s, compared with people who grew up in the 1960s and ’70s.

To show the extent of what the charity calls ‘this national scandal’, Barnardo’s commissioned the NOP Research Group to ask adults about their awareness of, and attitudes to, poverty in the UK. This found that 75 per cent of people were shocked to hear that 1 in 3 children are living in poverty. Almost 90 per cent of those questioned were unaware that one third of children lived in poverty and over one third think there are no children living in poverty in their area.

Newspaper advertisements published today show the likely effects of being born into poverty on the lives of newborn babies in the UK. Alongside the adverts, Barnardo’s “Poverty Wrecks Futures” report calls on the government to invest in children and take them out of poverty. It sets out the need for a minimum income for all those raising children and steps to ensure that Government policies reach the most vulnerable and poorest children. It also calls for grants as well as loans to be more readily available to poor families by reforming the Social Fund and for protection for the poorest families from exploitation from credit companies and loan sharks by imposing a statutory limit on interest rates, in line with most other European countries.

More information is available at www.barnardos.org.uk