Poverty and Children
During the Children’s Schools and Families Committee that I sit on; we were given a presentation by the person heading up the enormous task of preventing child poverty in Cornwall. I have to say I was shocked at how many of our children in Cornwall are classed in Relative Poverty (A Government Indicator). This is worked out using the following formula. A household of a couple with two children bring in less than 60% of the Median Income. This is a sliding scale depending on the make up of families and numbers of children.
What shocked me most was this figure is £361 per week, yes £361 per week! That figure and anything below that and your are classed in Relative Poverty. In Cornwall that could be seen as an average wage. It means that 19,660 of our children in Cornwall are classed in this category. Nationally, 2.8 million of our children fall into this category.
There are also 3 other categories.
Material Deprivation – 70% of Median Income
Persistent Poverty – Living in relative poverty for 3 out of 4 years
Absolute Poverty – Living in families with income below absolute threshold.
The Government under the Child Poverty Act have made it a duty for the Local Authority to co-operate and tackle child poverty. The Government has some pretty big targets to achieve by 2020. This too is a mammoth task for Cornwall Council to achieve. Partly due to Cornwall being a relatively poorly paid area compared to the rest of the Country, and (my view) our over reliance on seasonal work that is historically low paid.
I wish there was a magic wand to just wave, but there isn’t. If we don’t tackle and prevent this in childhood, then its hard for them to breakout of this cycle once they are older. Sadly, history has a habit of repeating itself once they have children.
What the CSF committee is going to do is make this issue one of its most important works by forming a special single issue panel to look at this in depth. Its not an easy task, but it would be wrong not to at least try and solve this terrible issue.