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Paying the price of austerity

Britain is one of the wealthiest countries in the world – yet 5 million kids could live in poverty by 2020

CHARITY Save the Children exposed the shocking consequences of Britain’s austerity agenda yesterday — revealing that a massive five million kids could be left to rot in poverty within six years.

The charity, which is usually devoted to youngsters in the developing world, warned the “triple whammy” of flat wages, benefit cuts and rising living costs is likely to see numbers of children living in poverty in Britain soar from 3.5 million today to five million by 2020.

Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth accused Britain’s political class of “sleepwalking towards the highest levels of child poverty since records began.”

He said: “We’re increasingly worried that unless there is a dramatic change of course, we’re at risk of writing off the future of millions of British children, giving them an unfair start in life.

“Millions of children in the UK are being left behind — sentenced to a lifetime of poverty. 

“Far too many of our children are living in cold and damp homes, without healthy food, with parents who can see no end to their situation.”

The charity based its estimate on already-reduced incomes and future benefit cuts supported by all three major parties.

It warned no major party has a viable strategy to achieve the commitments of the Child Poverty Act, which is aimed at eradicating child poverty in Britain.

But shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said the last Labour government lifted one million children out of poverty. 

She said: “Under David Cameron child poverty is set to rise, not fall, and the cost-of-living crisis has left millions of families struggling to make ends meet. 

“A Labour government will freeze energy prices, raise the minimum wage, extend free childcare provision, scrap the Bedroom Tax and introduce a compulsory jobs guarantee to get people off benefits and into work.”

People’s Assembly national secretary Sam Fairbairn said it was committed to fighting for real alternatives. 

“These statistics further demonstrate the damaging effect austerity is having,” he told the Star. 

“It’s a disgrace that in one of the richest countries on the planet, millions are heading straight into poverty at the hands of the very people who are supposed to represent us.”

Firing a warning shot at Labour, Mr Fairbairn added that the movement would “remain a thorn in the side to any government who remains committed to austerity.”

Save the Children’s manifesto for change includes the right to high-quality, affordable childcare, a minimum income guarantee for families with children under five and a drive to improve reading standards. 

That would help reverse the growing numbers of children living in poverty even though their parents work. 

Two-thirds of children in poverty now live in working households and Britain now has one of the highest rates of low pay in the developed world, according to a survey of 4,000 parents. 

A Con-Dem government spokesman said: “The government is committed to ending child poverty by tackling its root causes as part of our long-term economic plan.”

 

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