Hands off free school meals!, photo (public domain)

Hands off free school meals!, photo (public domain)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Ella Doyle, Birmingham North Socialist Party

Vast inequalities in the UK are predicted to worsen during the long, post-pandemic recovery, entrenching child poverty across the UK. This is according to a recent government report by the Social Mobility Commission.

However, what the government-funded study fails to address, is why we began at a start point of almost a third of children living in poverty in March of 2020!

Years of Tory cuts, aided and abetted by Labour councils, have ensured that living standards for working-class families have continued to fall. In the past decade, spending on early support for vulnerable children has halved. The most deprived areas have been hit the hardest, with average spending cut by 59%.

Many local authorities are turning to charities and the third sector to fill in the gaps in welfare provision. This has certainly been my experience working in a charity-funded community centre in one of the most deprived areas of Birmingham.

Local families who visit the centre are frequently desperate for support that is often beyond the scope of a small charity that relies on often inconsistent sources of funding to provide a basic level of assistance.

Working-class families remained the hardest hit by the pandemic and can look forward to yet more challenges with the ‘return to normal’. The small concession of the £20 weekly increase in Universal Credit is set to be withdrawn in the autumn.

At the community centre where I work, a weekly foodbank, which was initially funded to support families struggling during the pandemic, has continued to find increased demand despite the easing of restrictions. The Tories’ normal is one where thousands more children will join the already millions living in poverty.

The persistent failure of the government response to child poverty shows that the capitalist system in crisis cannot improve the lives of working-class people. Already, footballers such as Marcus Rashford – ambassador to FareShare, the charity which currently supplies our foodbank and thousands more like it – have been able to achieve results that are far beyond the scope of limited Tory concessions, or the so-called opposition Labour Party.

In order to fight against child poverty, we need to fight for socialist policies that see food, housing, education and security as basic rights for all people. That means fighting for the working class to get our hands on the vast wealth of the super-rich, so that society can be planned to meet peoples’ needs.

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