Child Poverty Across Kent. It’s not all doom and gloom

New figures released on July 12 by End Child Poverty show that eight districts across Kent have seen a decrease in child poverty – 0-15 year olds  – and four have seen an increase. Gravesham has seen the largest increase between 2014/15 and 2020/21, and Thanet the largest decrease, according to the data tables released by the End Child Poverty campaign.

When combined with data including annual supermarket inflation, which hit 8.3% last month, and soaring energy prices, the End Child Poverty report is even more sobering. So are the experiences described by those who are worst affected, who are disproportionately lone parents, disproportionately black and Asian, and disproportionately living in households that include a person who is disabled. Because of the crisis surrounding energy supply and costs, campaigners and politicians have pointed to October – when the energy price cap is predicted to rise dramatically – as a cliff-edge to watch out for. What these findings show is how very grave the cost of living crisis already is and how children in will be affected.

That said, councils and food banks will support families while schools are closed this summer. But such short-term fixes are obviously not adequate to the task, which is to stop millions of children from being harmed, both in the present and in the future, because they don’t have the opportunities and resources that everyone needs in order to reach their potential.

According to a report released on the same day as the End Child Poverty Campaign, Dr Anjan Ghosh, Director of Public Health at Kent County Council says in the report:

While Kent overall has a lower-level of children living in poverty than the England average, the latter is seeing a marked decrease that is much less evident in Kent. This means that the lot of our children is improving less year on year than the national average. As the graphs below show the decline in low income families is worse in almost all Kent areas than the England average. The gap has closed considerably in Ashford, Canterbury and Gravesham and has become significantly worse than the England average in Dover, Folkstone and Hythe and Swale as well as remaining very high in Thanet. While still well below national rates, the reductions in Maidstone, Sevenoaks and Tonbridge and Malling are far less than those seen across England.

Child poverty will continue to grow as the cost of living crisis continues. As inflation rises along with taxes, food, fuel, while wages and benefits fall behind real living costs, children in the most deprived areas will be harmed in the present and the future. Poor children become poor adults and the facts support this time and time again, year after year.

Child poverty isn’t inevitable, it’s a political choice.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, well at least not during the forthcoming school summer holidays.  KCC and many other organisations have stepped up to the plate to help those in need during the summer holidays:

KCC are offering:

The Reconnect free bus pass if you’re child is in years 6 to 13 at school and you live or go to school in Kent.

The Big Summer Fun Challenge consists of 40 activities for children to take part in over the summer holidays, between 20 July and 31 August 2022. It includes scavenger hunts, at home science experiments, and learning British Sign Language!

Children who receive benefits-related free school meals will receive a Reconnect e-voucher from their school which will enable them to access discounted offers at more than 40 Leisure Centres in Kent

The Reconnect Community Awards

Also KCC will be providing a one £50 food voucher over the summer holidays for families whose children are entitled to benefits-related free school meals.

These can be used in supermarkets and some local shops. These will be provided to each eligible child or young person by their school or college.

For those of you who are not sure if you are eligible,  visit the website – www.kent.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals – as soon as possible so that no eligible child/family misses out on this scheme.

The supermarket chain Asda cafes will offer meals for £1 to under-16s during the school holidays. The Kids Eat for £1 deal is available all day long from July 25 until September 4 in England and Wales during cafe opening hours, this includes baby food, and there is no minimum adult spend, to ensure that those who would normally rely on a school meal aren’t left without.

Other too are offering deals, as can been seen below

Here are a few other organizations helping families:

Levelling up is the equivalent language for the old challenge of disadvantage. It looks as though any successor to Boris Johnson may be as unfit as he was to meet it.

In modern Britain, child poverty and poverty per see should be a thing of the past.

Calculations from Households Below Average Income statistics on the number and percentage of people living in low-income households for financial year 2019/20, via Department for Work and Pensions & HMRC

The median UK income after housing costs in 2021 was £24,692 per year. Below 60% median income would equal circa £14,815 or less.

The Shepway Vox Team

Child poverty isn’t inevitable, it’s a political choice.

About shepwayvox (1549 Articles)
Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email: shepwayvox@riseup.net

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