The Scandal of Child Poverty in Modern Britain
By Peter Mills MA PhD.
In the Victorian Era countless children lived in dire poverty. Writer Charles Dickens was so disgusted with the uncaring social politics of his day that he wrote novels spotlighting the plight of the poor, especially the children of the poor. Stories such as “Oliver Twist” were based on a background of fact and began to open the eyes of the privileged classes to the appalling conditions in which the underprivileged existed.
Progress in safeguarding underprivileged British children was horribly slow but nevertheless plodded on, under the encouragement of many enlightened humanitarian thinkers and activists.
Unfortunately, it is a true saying that “history repeats itself”. Britain under the Labour and Tory administrations of the last twenty years or so has regressed back to the days of working-class poverty, illness, malnutrition, starvation and death. Before I can be accused of exaggeration, distorted views or “spouting Nationalist propaganda”, allow me to submit the following facts for consideration. If you have not already heard or read these facts in the news, they may come as a bit of a shock to you.
There are now officially 3.6 million children living in poverty in Britain. The number is growing. A report compiled by the National Children’s Bureau shows that “…the inequality and disadvantage suffered by poorer children 50 years ago still persists today” (1).
The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, the Chairman of which is a former Health Secretary (Alan Milburn), has lambasted the present Tory government (the risible Lib Dems can be entirely ignored, as the Prime Minister ignores them) for the pathetic inadequacy of its child poverty strategy which has no possibility of working.
The government’s “Child Poverty Promise” to reduce the number of British children who live in poverty to 10% within ten years from 2010 has been branded as “doomed to failure” by a report from the charity. (2).
Alan Milburn is quoted as stating that government policies for dealing with increasing levels of child poverty in Britain “…falls far short of what is needed…” and are “…a farce…” with current research demonstrating that “…the gap between the objective of making child poverty history and the reality is becoming ever wider…”
Alison Garnham of the Child Poverty Action Group has perfectly summed up the cause and effect of the failure of government policies on poverty in Britain, stating: “…It’s not fair to punish millions of families with children for an economic crisis caused by the banks!” (3)
The report by the charity also blames the government for not taking into account in its projected figures the dramatic surge of national poverty resulting from its own savage and unscrupulous welfare cuts, which are penalizing the innocent as well as the guilty, and probably more of the innocent than the guilty.
Mr. Milburn has also exposed the damning fact that the government’s main procedure for reducing child poverty is to invent increasingly devious methods of massaging the figures in order to disguise the real truth. It seems that the government’s “Angel of Death” – otherwise known as Iain Duncan Smith the Work and Pensions Secretary – has suggested the child poverty figures will look much better if estimates of a child’s poverty status include having access to a good education, a “decent” home and a stable family (with the government, of course, deciding what a good education, a “decent” home and a stable family should consist of). One cannot help but wonder what planet Iain Duncan Smith lives on – it is certainly not the planet Reality! (4)
If you are disturbed during the night by a distant scraping noise, it is probably Charles Dickens turning in his grave!