A new report from UNICEF UK says that government cuts will reverse the UK’s recent success in reducing child poverty.
Government action has until now protected four key groups of vulnerable children from becoming deprived; those children in immigrant families, jobless households, in single-parent families and with low parental education.
The UK comes second only to Sweden in protecting children in jobless households and in the top third of countries overall in this area.
Tax credits, cash transfers and accessible public services played a key role in reducing child poverty in the UK and protecting children from deprivation. Even though the UK missed its own targets to reduce child poverty to 1.7 million children in 2010, the UK still had one of the largest reductions in child poverty after government intervention.
However, UNICEF warns that government policies to reduce spending now means that this will reverse and more children will grow up in poverty.
David Bull, executive director UNICEF UK, said:
"This report shows how committed government action can make a big difference for children.
"However, we know that the number of children living in poverty in the UK is set to increase due to spending cuts. This will be a catastrophic blow to the futures of thousands of children, putting at risk their future health, education and chances of employment.
"One thing is clear - government policies to tackle the deficit must not harm children. There is only one chance at childhood – we cannot see a generation, growing up in austerity, denied the chance to fulfil their potential."
UNICEF Report Card 10, Measuring Child Poverty report shows how economically advanced countries have performed on tackling child poverty and sets out a new ‘Deprivation Index’ alongside the measure of relative poverty based on household income. Key findings from the report show that in 2009 some 13 million children in the European Union (plus Norway and Iceland) lacked basic items necessary for their development. Meanwhile, 30 million children – across 35 countries with developed economies – lived in poverty.
Commenting on Report Card 10, Family Action chief executive Helen Dent said:
"The parents we support are under more pressure than ever before to provide for their children. Families and children are now in the eye of the austerity storm and we're deeply concerned that government measures to cut the deficit are blighting children's futures."