Child poverty could soar under new Johnson government

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Tory plans for social security could “lead to record levels of child poverty”

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13th December 2019 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

The election of a Tory government at Westminster could lead to record levels of child poverty, a charity has said.

The Poverty Alliance has suggested that Boris Johnson’s new administration will make life even harder for the most vulnerable.

It pointed to analysis which suggest that Tory plans for social security could “lead to record levels of child poverty”.

Responding to the results of the UK general election, which saw the Conservatives win a majority, Peter Kelly, the group’s director, said: “The general election took place against a background of a rising tide of poverty, with more ​and more people struggling to keep their heads above water.  

“Predictions prior to the election suggested that the number of children being swept into poverty could reach a historic high. 

"The new Conservative government has stated that austerity is coming to an end. But analysis by the Resolution Foundation prior to the election found that the Conservative manifesto plans for social security ​could lead to record levels of child poverty.

“We need a social security system that unlocks people from poverty. We need a labour market that provides decent and secure work. ​And we need public services that are there for everyone. We simply cannot go on the way we are.”

He added: "The lives and life chances of millions of people across Scotland depend on the new government charting a different course. For the anti-poverty movement the need for change is as clear as ever. The coming years will bring challenges, but we and the wider movement in Scotland must remain resolute and work together to realise a Scotland where poverty no longer holds people in its grip.”

Meanwhile, the voluntary sector and wider civil society has been digesting the election results and their implications.

Peter Lewis, the chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said: "The new government faces huge challenges. To truly deliver on the one nation vision the prime minister has set out, we urge the government to work in partnership with charities around the UK to tackle the crucial issues we face locally, nationally and globally, helping to unlock even greater generosity from the British public.

“In the first year of the new Government we hope to have fundraising recognised as a chartered profession, and want to work with MPs from all parties to champion excellent fundraising, and its fundamental role in creating a better world.”

Reflecting on the different voting patterns in the rest of the UK and Scotland, where the Scottish National Party achieved a landslide, Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, said: “The patterns of voting we have seen across the country reflect the reality that many people feel let down and frustrated that a country of such wealth as ours still has poverty and many struggle to make ends meet. With the country so closely split, and the people of Scotland having voted so very differently, much remains unresolved.

It will require considerable grace, generosity and humility on the part of the government to bring the nation together.

“But more importantly, our world is facing the threat of climate change. It will require not just an act of political will but the renewal of our spiritual values to address this. And we call on the new government to work for healing, justice and fairness for all, especially the poorest in our own communities and throughout the world, who always suffer the most.”

Many people feel let down and frustrated that a country of such wealth as ours still has poverty and many struggle to make ends meet

Meanwhile, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has said that the new UK government must urgently tackle issues that are pushing an increasing number of tenants into poverty such as high energy prices and Universal Credit. 

SFHA also said the government must ensure that labour supply can continue to be delivered where it is needed.

Sally Thomas, SFHA chief executive, said: “Everyone in Scotland deserves a safe, warm, energy efficient affordable home. 

“The Universal Credit system is still not fit for purpose. It continues to push too many people into poverty. Fixing the system, particularly ending the five-week wait for payment, must be a priority for the new UK government.

“Despite housing associations having to meet strict energy efficiency targets, their tenants are experiencing increasing levels of fuel poverty. The new UK government must take steps to address energy pricing so that tenants can afford to heat their homes.

“We are also asking that the government makes sure labour supply is delivered where it is needed in the housing sector – whether this is building affordable homes or delivering services.”

Girlguiding Scotland welcomed the increase in women MPs across the UK, but said it is disappointed to see only one more woman in Scotland being elected to the House of Commons in 2019 compared to the 2017 election, and down two from 2015.

In total, 18 women were elected in Scottish constituencies out of 59 seats – making up 30% of the seats. The remaining 41 seats were won by male candidates.

Sir John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said the new Government has an opportunity, and a responsibility, to start tackling the divisions laid bare by the tumultuous politics of the past few years.

He said: “Our polling consistently tells us that charities are the force that unites people and communities across this country. A new parliament – complete with many new MPs with first hand experience working with charities – presents a pivotal moment to stress our positive work not just with Government, but all political parties.

“It is a time for all of us in charities and in politics to nurture charities of all sizes.”

22nd December 2019 by Isabelle Newlands

Definitely a place for charities but they have to be accountable for where they spend their donations/grants.