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iHV supports call for next UK Government to take urgent action on poverty

11th May 2017

The iHV welcomes and supports the call from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Children Poverty Action Group (CPAG) on the next UK Government to take urgent action on poverty to ensure a healthier future for the UK’s infants, children and young people.

Poverty and low income is seriously affecting the health of UK children according to paediatricians – and any new Government must tackle health inequalities or risk storing up health problems for future generations. That’s according to a new report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) launched today.

The report “Poverty and child health: views from the frontline” is based on a survey of more than 250 paediatricians across the country, whose comments provide an insight into the grave reality of life for the millions of UK children living in poverty.

Latest figures show that 30% (4 million) children in the UK live in poverty – with projections suggesting this could rise to 5 million by the end of the decade.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director, iHV, commented:

“The iHV welcomes and supports the call from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Children Poverty Action Group (CPAG) on the next UK Government to take urgent action on poverty to ensure a healthier future for the UK’s infants, children and young people.

We particularly welcome the call to reverse public health cuts to ensure universal early years services, including health visiting and school nursing, are prioritised and supported financially, with additional targeted help for children and families experiencing poverty.  The recent reduction in health visitor numbers impacts the vital support that babies, young children and families need at such a critical time in their lives – we want to ensure that every child has the best start in life.”

The report looks at a number of areas including food insecurity, poor housing and worry, stress and stigma – and their effect on the health of children.  It reveals that:

  • More than two-thirds of paediatricians surveyed said poverty and low income contribute ‘very much’ to the ill health of children they work with
  • Housing problems or homelessness were a concern for two thirds of respondents.
  • More than 60% said food insecurity contributed to the ill health amongst children they treat 3
  • 40% had difficulty discharging a child in the last 6 months because of concerns about housing or food insecurity
  • More than 50% of respondents said that financial stress and worry contribute ‘very much’ to the ill health of children they work with

The RCPCH and CPAG are calling on whoever forms the next Government to tackle poverty urgently through:

  • The restoration of binding national targets to reduce child poverty, backed by a national child poverty strategy.
  • The adoption of a ‘child health in all policies’ approach to decision making and policy development, with Her Majesty’s Treasury disclosing information about the impact of the Chancellor’s annual budget statement on child poverty and inequality.
  • The reversal of public health cuts to ensure universal early years services, including health visiting and school nursing, are prioritised and supported financially, with additional targeted help for children and families experiencing poverty.
  • The reversal of cuts to universal credit which will leave the majority of families claiming this benefit worse off.

Download full report (PDF, 1.1 MB) or read summary here.