Missing: Children and Young People
The cost of living is affecting all of us, but decision makers continue to ignore the needs of children and young people living in poverty.
Living costs are skyrocket, and incomes are not keeping up. Already hard-pressed families are in an impossible position with nothing left to cut back on. This means parent’s skipping meals so their children can get the nutrition they need, or sending kids to school in dirty uniforms because the cost to run the washing machine is too high.
Poverty has lasting scars. Children are at risk of growing up feeling anxious, isolated and lacking self-worth.
Young people who have aspirations of going to university and becoming social workers, doctors and lawyers are faced with eyewatering accommodation costs, alongside higher bills for food and transport, without any additional help. Those looking at apprenticeships will be legally paid just £4.81 an hour – half the legal minimum wage for an adult aged over 22. While young people who qualify for Universal Credit are automatically paid less if they are under 25 even if they live independently or have children.
And yet there is no plan to give children and young people in poverty the support they need. There was no mention of children or young people in the government’s plan for Levelling up. And financial help provided to cover the increased cost of energy bills has consisted of flat-rate payments to households – it provides the same amount for all those eligible, disregarding the fact that households with children need more money to get by. As a result, families with children are receiving proportionately less assistance than other households.
“After overcoming many barriers which naturally occur for any student from a low income background to actually apply to university, I am met with even more challenges before I have set foot in any lecture theatres.
My accommodation fees are just under £9100, with the max student loan available I am left with just £600 to get myself through the year. This, combined with the fact that I am needing to buy all sorts of things for my room.
Applying to university naively made me believe that I would not have to worry about money again as I would be eligible for a full loan, and yet I am now in a position where I am my own, without parental support and panicking about how I am to support myself independently to be able to complete my studies. It is an incredibly isolating feeling which makes me question is it really worth it?”
Quote from an End Child Poverty Youth Ambassador
Action is needed now
The government can, and must, act to ensure that children and young people are no longer missing from key decisions. This would include:
- Immediately increase benefits in line with the rising costs of living, and ensure that under 25 year olds receive the same benefits as those aged over 25
- Ensure that work pays enough to meet the needs of a family. Calling on employers to pay the real living wage to workers of all ages and reducing the cost of childcare