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MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Mon 30-Jan-17 15:18:58

Guest post: "We need a new approach to child poverty"

A new bill being introduced to Parliament will set a new target to end child poverty, says Dan Jarvis MP

Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central

Posted on: Mon 30-Jan-17 15:18:58

(37 comments )

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"Supporting children during those crucial early years of life is a smart investment"

One of the great privileges of serving in parliament is the wide range of people that you have an opportunity to meet. Kelly Louise, a remarkable ten year old, stands out for having bravely shared her experiences of poverty.

At a recent event in parliament, she spoke about the stresses that poverty imposed on her family, how that affected her, and the coping mechanisms she deployed to make life liveable. From what you wear to school, to the home you return to, she conveyed how poverty can shape so much of a young person’s life and relationships.

Her words were so powerful partly because they reflected all the things that we want for our own children. Kelly Louise concluded by asking, why it is that some children have to grow up facing similar challenges - and why isn't more support offered to parents bringing up children in the most difficult of circumstances?

When you see poverty through the lens of children and young people, the solutions become a little clearer, as well as more urgent. So while we rightly applaud the spirit and bravery of a remarkable girl, I think we also owe Kelly Louise answers.

We all feel injustice when we witness children having a hard time, with opportunities open to others being denied to them. That is what motivates me to campaign against child poverty. It's the reason why I stood for parliament in the first place.

One in every four children are held back because they grow up in poverty. By 2020, the experts predict that levels of child poverty will increase by 50%.


I believe politicians have a duty to ensure that every child has the childhood they deserve and the opportunity to achieve success in their future. It is unacceptable to settle for anything less, and we should reject the lottery of birth determining someone’s path through life.

One in every four children are held back because they grow up in poverty. By 2020, the experts predict that levels of child poverty will increase by 50%. That is why we need a new approach.

I am introducing a bill into Parliament to set a new target to end child poverty, and to ask the government to bring forward a plan to achieve it. There are a number of further steps which the government should take.

The importance of a child's early years in forming their life chances is widely agreed. It is a smart investment to support children during those crucial early years of life, when it has the greatest impact in closing the gap between disadvantaged children and their wealthier peers.

Cutting support to children and their families is short-sighted. Two-thirds of children in poverty grow up in a home where at least one parent works, so providing more support to those who are in work and in poverty is critical. That will require policies to promote more secure work and offer support to lower earners so that they can progress to better paid jobs.

Britain can be a country in which everyone has a good childhood and an equal chance to achieve success. It is perfectly possible to make that a reality, provided political leaders take the decisions required.

For Kelly Louise and millions of children across our country, a target to end child poverty can send a powerful signal that politicians are on their side. The bill that I am introducing seeks to move us one step towards achieving that vision, and it will be debated in parliament on Friday 3rd February.

I hope it receives support from across the political spectrum because, whilst children may be 20% of the population, they are 100% of our future.

By Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central

Twitter: @DanJarvisMP

StealthPolarBear Mon 30-Jan-17 17:31:47

What are the practical steps that can be taken to do this? How much is in the control of central government?

StealthPolarBear Mon 30-Jan-17 17:34:42

Obviously if the aim is to eradicate poverty you would be looking at an absolute measure of poverty. Presumably an increase in minimum wage and education is the answer. I also think there's something about young people who are not academic, I'm not convinced the current apprentice scheme is doing what it should

user1484226561 Mon 30-Jan-17 18:48:48

The current apprentice scheme is for the most able and academic. more vocational qualifications such as BTECS are what is needed for less academic children.

But disipline in schools has to come first, A HUGE percentage of money spent on education is wasted, because children don't listen, won't work, behave badly, disrupt other people, and waste all their opportunities.

I would go as far as to say more than half of money in spent on education is wasted by poor behaviour.

If you want to improve educational outcomes, do something about that.

And then there is the great divide between workers and non workers. Look at education, and NHS in particular, but not alone, employees slog their guts out under enormous pressure, with long hours, for poor pay. On the other hand, there are people raking in money for nothing.It is depressing how often the two incomes are the same.

More employment, with each individual worker working fewer hours and having a greater work life balance, ( without pay cuts, and an increase in the minimum wage) and decrease in benefits to pay for it.

That would mean more people working, and a better quality of life for those who are working.

user1484226561 Mon 30-Jan-17 18:49:52

I'm not convinced the current apprentice scheme is doing what it should it is doing what it "should", which is offer the best start in working life to the most able.

everythingis Mon 30-Jan-17 19:07:41

Who is this post by?

Gran22 Mon 30-Jan-17 19:21:56

I hate seeing children in really poor situations. But we have to acknowledge that particularly in low income households, parental spending choices and priorities impact on children's lives. Whilst some families manage reasonably on minimal incomes, others don't. Are people aware that a non working single parent of one child gets more in benefits than an adult couple with no dependent children. The extra money in child tax credits and child benefit is for the welfare of the child.

User, working in the NHS offers career opportunities, a pension scheme, maternity leave, even subsidised nursery places. Getting a foot in the door can lead to better things! Living on benefits may seem attractive to those who work hard for little more than the 'full time mummies' who choose to claim, but they will ultimately have to find work, and their starting point is years behind. Plus, it's not a great example to children.

user1484226561 Mon 30-Jan-17 20:41:21

User, working in the NHS offers career opportunities, a pension scheme, maternity leave, even subsidised nursery places. Getting a foot in the door can lead to better things! I totally agree, that's why I did it, but for many years we were well below the "breadline" BECAUSE I was working. I'm not saying that means we were poor, but lots of people who calss themselves as "poor" ( and live as though they were poor) are a lot better off than we were

hahahaIdontgetit Mon 30-Jan-17 20:51:31

The post is by Dan Jarvis, labour MP based in Barnsley. He's a good guy and a man of principal (in my opinion).

Want2bSupermum Mon 30-Jan-17 22:14:46

There is a huge issue with the cost of childcare. There was a post on MN earlier this month about how a couple with an income of GBP100k could be struggling. For any family where both parents work, its was a 'yeah its a struggle during those crunch years'. If it is a struggle for a couple making GBP100k a year it's a struggle for those earning less too.

I would like to see a better solution to childcare that is affordable. Since we are not going to change ratios it needs to be subsidized by basing benefits on income after childcare. If your household income is GBP40k a year and you are paying GBP950 a month in childcare, your income for benefit calculations should be GBP28,600, not GBP40k. I think it would have a profound effect of pulling a lot of families out of poverty.

Rainbowqueeen Tue 31-Jan-17 04:47:15

I'd like to know how many of the children living in poverty are from single parent families where the NRP does not pay child maintenance and what the government plans to do about child maintenance avoidance

StealthPolarBear Tue 31-Jan-17 07:07:22

Excellent question rainbow

Gran22 Tue 31-Jan-17 07:14:44

Super, agreed re childcare. That and housing costs are the killers for working families.

Rainbow, good question.

AnneElliott Tue 31-Jan-17 09:06:46

I agree with the parent of maintenance . Why not put that back into the courts and let them chase parents who choose not to support their children. It can't be right that these parents ( mostly men) get away with leaving their kids in poverty.

everythingis Tue 31-Jan-17 09:49:17

I can tell it's not a Tory!
I think Blair tried hard to reduce child poverty. Cameron trashed it.
Good for you Dan

Purplebluebird Tue 31-Jan-17 09:57:24

For us, it's definitely housing cost / council tax (live in SE England because that's where our friends and family are), and also childcare cost means that I am not able to work.

Liverpoolfraggle Tue 31-Jan-17 10:55:43

More than half of people accessing my local food bank are in work. They may be on zero hours contracts or in very low pay and their income doesn't keep up with cost of living. It's not all bad parental life choices. There's no give in their budget, so if hit by a crisis such as sickness, (no sick pay), or needing school shoes, or a washing machine breaks down, (no savings), there's few choices left. It can boil down to rationing food and heating against a high interest loan you can't pay back.

Want2bSupermum Tue 31-Jan-17 12:35:32

Also for those on zero contract hours, there needs to be a rethink about how the income from that job is used for benefit calculations. I think either disregard it like they do for child maintenance, take the average over the past year or a percentage of the advertised income.

Batteriesallgone Tue 31-Jan-17 15:37:09

I'm probably being dim, but does that OP say what he is actually going to do?

I mean yep everyone wants to end child poverty. But what is the action list?

I'm sure the 10year old was / is wonderful, but does anyone actually need a 10 year old to stand up and talk about living in poverty to know that child poverty is a bad thing? Sounds like proof our politicians are living in a completely different world to the rest of us if they don't already understand the grinding awfulness of poverty.

We all know how to end poverty. Pay lower end workers more. Have a minimum wage set ABOVE the living wage. Our politicians are hand in glove with CEOs and shareholders moaning about profits so that won't happen. Pisses me off when politicians pretend to care.

YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 21:18:20

This is exactly the sort of issue that is going to be completely eclipsed by wrangling over Brexit. The money, time and resources the government will have to spend taking the UK out of the EU could have been spent on Children's Centres, schools, help with childcare etc. It's an absolute disgrace and a total distraction from the pressing issues of the day.

Out2pasture Wed 01-Feb-17 00:50:11

Men need to pay for children they father. This isn't rocket science and doesn't need a "new" approach.
The government needs to get on with tracking and charging these cheats and liars.

GiaContettiBonafetti Wed 01-Feb-17 07:47:29

Good points made here, (except do the "bad choices trope), thanks for highlighting this issue, it's a disgrace to this country and I hope Brexit doesn't over shadow issue and that progress is made.

HalfShellHero Wed 01-Feb-17 13:47:13

Yep making child maintenance a prosecutable offence like in America is long overdue imo and would help the quality of a lot of childrens lives.

Out2pasture Wed 01-Feb-17 15:43:00

If the assets of seniors can be back tracked and investigated (home sale, gifting to family) for care home fees. Those same techniques could be used for children. If they refuse to work and receive benefits a small portion should be guarnished.

Sus1san2 Wed 01-Feb-17 17:44:19

The answer to child poverty is:
Educate the wrong people who NOT to get pregnant. No drugs, booze, loutish cheap behaviour by both seven. More contraception.
Likewise poor countries.
How many appeals for STAND PIPES wen the money does not go to the people.
Better send contraception.!!!

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