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From: The Socialist issue 990, 11 April 2018: Youth demand a future

Search site for keywords: Child poverty - Strikes - Poverty - Cuts - Children - School - Tories - Government - Education - Social workers - Schools - National Education Union - Local government

Child poverty to hit 5m by 2021 - strikes can stop the cuts

Some teachers have kept their schools open on snow days so their students can still get a hot meal, photo Matt J Newman (Creative Commons)

Some teachers have kept their schools open on snow days so their students can still get a hot meal, photo Matt J Newman (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Tessa Warrington, East Midlands Socialist Party

"My children have grey skin, poor teeth, poor hair, poor nails. They are thinner... when you see them with children of the same age who are from an affluent area, they just look tiny."

Horrifying research published by the National Education Union (NEU) together with the Child Poverty Action Group has again highlighted worsening child poverty in Britain.

Delegates at the NEU's recent annual conference commented that schools are increasingly forced to fill the gaps left by cuts to local government and social services.

"We are expected to be social workers, carers, doctors. We are expected to deal with every issue at the same time as doing all the other things that the government wants us to do," said one.

Shoes

Others described keeping their school open during the snow to ensure children could get a hot meal, and delivering shoes to homes so pupils could get to school.

The NEU survey revealed that 4.1 million children currently live in poverty, predicted to rise to five million by 2021. As reported on the front page of the Socialist in March, around a million children are also expected to lose access to free school meals due to Tory means-testing of universal credit.

By kicking people off benefits the Tories twist the figures to claim poverty is decreasing. First-hand experience screams that the opposite is true.

We need councils that will stand up and refuse to pass cuts that harm our children. We need unions like the NEU to be prepared to take decisive action in defence of education and pay. Coordinated strikes have the power to push the Tories back - and out power altogether.

Striking school teachers in Virginia, USA demonstrated what workers can achieve when we fight together. They also organised food on the picket lines for their students who face the same conditions of poverty as ours.

This is not a coincidence. It is a product of the profit-driven capitalist system. Let's fight for a socialist future for all.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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