One in eight of the poorest UK children miss out on hot meals, warns Save the Children

Lauren Higgs
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Families living in poverty in the UK are bearing the brunt of the recession, with one in eight of the most disadvantaged children missing at least one hot meal a day, research by the charity Save the Children has found.

An estimated 3.5 million children live in poverty in the UK. Image: Arlen Connelly
An estimated 3.5 million children live in poverty in the UK. Image: Arlen Connelly

The charity’s report, Child Poverty in 2012, It Shouldn’t Happen, includes the results of two surveys - one of 1,500 children and young people living in poverty, the other of 5,000 of the UK’s poorest parents.

The report found that 15 per cent of children living in poverty go without new shoes when they’ve grown out of their old ones and 14 per cent go without a warm winter coat.

A quarter of the children told researchers that they only ask their parents to buy them things that they “really need”, but 13 per cent said they have stopped asking for anything because they know their parents can’t afford it.

The research found that 80 per cent of parents are borrowing money to pay for essentials such as food and clothes, while 24 per cent said they argue with or snap at their children more because of their money troubles.

Almost a quarter of parents said their children miss out on school trips because they can't afford them and 29 per cent said they did not have enough money to have their children's friends over for tea. One in ten of the poorest parents said they skip meals so that their children can eat.

Duncan, 11, told researchers: "My mum makes sacrifices so that I can do the hobbies I want to do to keep me off the streets. She cuts back on buying herself new shoes and clothes."

The charity is calling on government to do more to encourage employers to pay the living wage, increase funding for childcare, and strengthen the new Universal Credit system - by allowing working parents to keep more of their earnings before benefits are withdrawn.

The charity has also launched its first appeal for donations to help the estimated three and a half million children living in poverty in the UK.

Justin Forsyth, chief executive at Save the Children said poverty is tearing families apart, with parents buckling under the pressure of mounting bills and children seeing their parents argue about money. 

"Given that most children living in poverty have at least one parent in work; it is appalling that those parents can’t earn enough to give themselves and their kids a decent life,” he said. “All working parents should be able to earn enough to meet the basic needs of their children. 

“The government must make work pay by encouraging more employers to introduce a living wage, provide extra child care support to help parents trying to get into work and protect the poorest and most disadvantaged from further cuts.”

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