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Child Poverty is a real problem in Sevenoaks

October 25, 2018 4:49 PM
By Iain Porter


Sevenoaks District has the fourth highest number of million-pound properties in the country outside London, while 4,700 children here are living in poverty. As a community, we shouldn't accept this.

Two thirds of children in poverty are in working families, trapped by low pay, insecure jobs and rising costs. Our social security safety net should support work and ensure that no one is left unable to afford the essentials.

But the current Government has slashed support for working families via Universal Credit. In Sevenoaks, all families claiming support for the first time must use the new system from next month. Cuts to 'work allowances' since 2015 mean families keep less of their earnings before their Universal Credit payment is withdrawn. Some working single parents are around £2,500 a year worse off.

These families have been hit by a general freeze on benefits since 2015, leaving them struggling against rising prices. In fact, benefit changes since 2015 are a key driver behind the Institute for Fiscal Studies projection that a million more children in the UK will be in poverty by 2021.

The Chancellor must take urgent action in the Budget to halt this impending child poverty disaster. Liberal Democrats would unfreeze benefits and reverse cuts to Universal Credit.

Child poverty is also driven by expensive and insecure private rented accommodation, as house prices soar and social housing dwindles. We would build substantially more social housing and create a British Housing Company to reduce the cost of land for new houses.

Investing in education and skills is crucial to tackling poverty long term. In Government, the Liberal Democrats introduced Pupil Premium funding to support poorer schools students. We're now proposing Lifelong Learning Entitlements so everyone can access higher skills throughout their lives.

Iain Porter