MPs warned child poverty needs to be top of the agenda
There is "no time to lose" in the battle against child poverty, campaigners have warned.
Campaigners say dealing with depravation should be a "national priority" which a new government at Westminster must address in its first 100 days.
The warning comes as the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) published its Programme for Government – a six point manifesto outlining ways to tackle child poverty in the UK.
A newly elected government, the group says, will be confronted by a child poverty crisis – with 700,000 more children in relative poverty by 2020 than there were in 2010.
As a consequence, ministers must develop, fund and implement a long-term plan to end child poverty; back working parents by helping them bring home a decent income and strengthen universal credit; and reduce the demand for foodbanks by ending costly delays and poor decision-making in the benefits system.
And over the duration of the next parliament, the manifesto states it wants to see greater protection for families from rising living costs and the development of an ambitious childcare strategy that is fully funded.
CPAG's six point manifesto
The first 100 days:
*Commit to making ending child poverty a national priority
The first year:
*Develop, fund and implement a long-term plan to end child poverty
*Back working parents by helping them bring home a decent income & strengthening universal credit
*Reduce the demand for foodbanks by ending costly delays and poor decision-making in the benefits system
Over the parliament:
*Protect families from rising living costs by restoring the value of children’s benefits and protecting them with a triple lock, and poverty-proofing the school day
*Develop and fund an ambitious childcare strategy
“The political narrative tells us about our economic crisis, but it has been too quiet on the rising poverty which is maxing out our social deficit and shutting the door on children’s chance to thrive,” states the manifesto.
“A generation of children deserves more than promises. The 2015 government has an opportunity to put us back on track to end child poverty once and for all. It must seize it.”
The charity also wants to see what it calls the “poverty proofing of the school day”.
“More needs to be done to make sure that schools are truly inclusive for all children,” the document states.
“The government should work with all schools to help identify and overcome the barriers to learning faced by children and young people from low-income households, stopping poverty from stifling the school day.
“Schools and local authorities could improve educational attainment by spreading learning from the successful ‘London Challenge’ across the country.”
Children are considered as living in poverty if they live in households with less than 60% of average household income.
Using this measure the latest (2012/13) official data shows a lone parent family with two children (aged five and 14) is living in poverty if they are living on less than £269 per week - after housing costs have been deducted.
John Dickie, head of CPAG Scotland, said with the UK government continuing to hold key poverty preventing powers it is vital that all those seeking to be elected as Scottish MPs commit to prioritising action to end child poverty.
He told TFN: “Our CPAG programme for government sets out why that action must include an increase in the national minimum wage, improved work allowances within universal credit and an end to fixed term sanctions and DWP delays and errors in decision making.
“Whoever makes up the government must prioritise a restoration in the value of children’s benefits and increased support for childcare.
“With child poverty already rising in Scotland there is no time to lose.”