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Child poverty soars
Matt Gordon, Bristol Socialist Party
By 2020, almost a quarter of UK children will lack the basic necessities needed to keep body and soul together. That is the definition of 'absolute poverty' and the figures come from a damning indictment by a leading charity.
Child poverty fell from 3.4 million in 1998 to 2.3 million in 2010 after New Labour's Child Poverty Act - but now it has risen massively, condemning millions of low income families to suffering and penury.
The report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that children in relative poverty (ie less than 60% of average income) will rise from 2.6 million in 2009 to 3.3 million in 2020.
Working-age adults in relative poverty will also rise from 5.7 million in 2009 to 7.5 million by 2020.
The report states that this is a direct result of the cuts carried out by the last government, and the £12 billion of further welfare cuts will make things worse.
As well as attacks on benefits, wages remain stagnant and there is a 'poverty premium' that forces the poorest to pay more for rent, gas, electricity and even food, meaning the cost of living is highest for those least able to pay.
The Tory response is push for more cuts and to redefine what poverty means to reduce the figures. They continue to demonise welfare claimants as workshy, when being in work does not protect people, especially children, from poverty.
None of Labour's would-be leaders, with the exception of Jeremy Corbyn, provide any solutions. They too support additional cuts - which are driving people to food banks and now fuel banks as well.
The report correctly lays the blame for increased child poverty at the feet of the government and austerity, but it is also goes further by saying that schools need proper funding, that long-term youth unemployment must be tackled, and that a living wage is needed. The report states that five million people currently earn less than a living wage.
We call for a £10 an hour minimum wage. This will reduce the need to claim tax credits and housing benefit while lifting millions out of poverty.
One of the richest countries in the world has more than enough resources to end child poverty, but only socialist policies can do this.