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‘Truly dreadful’ poverty rise must prompt Government action

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Responding to official statistics showing 200,000 more children are now living in poverty, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

‘These figures are truly dreadful. The Government was repeatedly warned of the likely consequences of reducing support for the poorest people in the country and now we can see the results. Austerity has bitten hard, with an additional 200,000 children living below the poverty line. More children face missing out on hot meals, sleeping in cold bedrooms and being bullied at school. In the longer term, too many young people risk being denied a fair start and left behind, with life-changing consequences.

‘The Government promotes getting families back to work as the best way of tackling child poverty, but the reality is that two thirds of children in poverty now live in working families. The four-year freeze to tax credits already in the pipeline will only make things worse. It is crucial that the Government recognises the importance of income to make sure that when parents move into work they move out of poverty.

‘The situation is made even more stark by the economic uncertainty that the country faces after last Thursday’s referendum result. Children did not have a role in that decision and their interests must be safeguarded first and foremost when deciding what happens next.

‘The publication of these figures must prompt urgent action to protect the well-being of children. Whoever ends up leading the Government must rule out further welfare cuts in another emergency budget that would punish the poorest families and inevitably drag more children into poverty.’

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