Thursday, 3 November 2016

Generosity - it will be all right on the night.

Since the first major Appeal in 1980 BBC Children in Need has raised over £840 million, all of which has gone to help disadvantaged children and young people around the UK. Every year our vast, loving and giving Nation will put on fancy dress and fundraise for this truly worthy cause. The next event will fill our TV screens on the evening of Friday 18th November. I was a volunteer on the donation phone lines for three years and experienced first hand the kindness of my fellow British citizens. We call all be proud of who we are and the values that we hold dear. 
The money raised is used to support projects that are working with disadvantaged children and young people across the UK. Children in need is currently supporting around 2,400 projects that are working with children facing a range of disadvantages. These include poverty and deprivation; disabled young people and children who have been the victims of abuse or neglect.

In the last year alone, our support helped change the lives of 480,000 disadvantaged children and young people, right here in the UK. In response to increased demand for essential goods from families living with severe financial, health and social difficulties which affect children’s wellbeing, BBC Children in Need will give £2.25 million worth of Emergency Essentials grants for the year to March 2017.

All this is wonderful.  We British are the most generous people in the world.  I don’t baulk at that statement.  We are also one of the most highly taxed nations in the world. Now consider this from Child Poverty Action Group, mindful of the fact that the figures stated are all before housing costs are taken into account. The state of our care for our Nation’s children is drastically changing due to our own government’s policy. When you look at the information I have copied here – it is obvious why more and more money is needed for charitable distribution.  Please also bear in mind that the  new cap on housing benefit will add to this problem creating a shortfall in rent for many thousands of families that are already struggling to cope.

Child poverty facts and figures

 Poverty affects one in four children in the UK today. When kids grow up poor they miss out – and so do the rest of us. They miss out on the things most children take for granted: warm clothes, school trips, having friends over for tea. They do less well at school and earn less as adults.

Any family can fall on hard times and find it difficult to make ends meet. But poverty isn’t inevitable. With the right policies every child can have the opportunity to do well in life, and we all share the rewards of having a stronger economy and a healthier, fairer society.

·         There were 3.9 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2014-15. That’s 28 per cent of children, or 9 in a classroom of 30.1 There were 3.9 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2014-15. That’s 28 per cent of children, or 9 in a classroom of 30.1

·         London is the area with the highest rates of child poverty in the country.2 You can see child poverty rates by local area by visiting End Child Poverty.

·         Child poverty reduced dramatically between 1998/9-2011/12 when 800,000 children were lifted out of poverty. Since 2010, child poverty figures have flat-lined. The number of children in absolute poverty has increased by 0.5 million since 2010.3

·         As a direct result of tax and benefit decisions made since 2010, the Institute for Fiscal Studies project that the number of children in relative poverty will have risen from 2.3 to 3.6 million by 2020 (poverty figures before housing costs).4

·        Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty in the UK. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of children growing up in poverty live in a family where at least one member works.5

·        Children in large families are at a far greater risk of living in poverty – 34% of children in poverty live in families with three or more children.6

·         Families experience poverty for many reasons, but its fundamental cause is not having enough money to cope with the circumstances in which they are living. A family might move into poverty because of a rise in living costs, a drop in earnings through job loss or benefit changes.7

·         Child poverty blights childhoods. Growing up in poverty means being cold, going hungry, not being able to join in activities with friends. For example, 60 per cent of families in the bottom income quintile would like, but cannot afford, to take their children on holiday for one week a year.8

·         Child poverty has long-lasting effects. By GCSE, there is a 28 per cent gap between children receiving free school meals and their wealthier peers in terms of the number achieving at least 5 A*-C GCSE grades.9

·         Poverty is also related to more complicated health histories over the course of a lifetime, again influencing earnings as well as the overall quality – and indeed length - of life. Men in the most deprived areas of England have a life expectancy 9.2 years shorter than men in the least deprived areas. They also spend 14% less of their life in good health. 10 Women share similar statistics.

·        Child poverty imposes costs on broader society – estimated to be at least £29 billion a year.11 Governments forgo prospective revenues as well as commit themselves to providing services in the future if they fail to address child poverty in the here and now.

·         Childcare and housing are two of the costs that take the biggest toll on families’ budgets. When you account for childcare costs, an extra 130,000 children are pushed into poverty.12

Updated June 2016. All poverty figures are after housing costs, except where otherwise indicated) Child Poverty Action Group. Below Average Income, An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2015/16, Tables 4a and 4b. Department for Work and Pensions, 2016.

It is good to be generous. But we need to recognise that what this Government is planning to do will
push  more and more children into poverty. Can we really allow this to happen? I am grateful to my friend Lindsay Mulholland for reminding me.  No poem just the first words of a George Benson song that has always resonated with me.
 Greatest Love Of All

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be.
Thank you for reading, Please pass this on to anyone who may listen.  Adele