Leading medical journal, The Lancet, has backed the findings of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Health in All Policies (APPG) inquiry, which I chaired, warns that a ‘generation of children who grow up in poverty…risk being airbrushed from official records’.
The APPG scrutinised the impact of the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015-2016 on child poverty, child health and inequalities.
The world famous medical journal’s editorial says:
“The UK Government has an ambitious plan to reduce deficits in the UK’s economy. However, this quest for recovery might be at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society. The Bill will also repeal most of the UK Child Poverty Act 2010, which set out to eradicate child poverty by 2020; in fact, the Bill has removed all child poverty reduction targets.
The elimination of UK child poverty would save the lives of 1400 children aged younger than 15 years every year. However, the combined effect of the changes proposed by the Bill would significantly reduce the income of thousands of already struggling families, increasing child poverty and exacerbating the many risks to children’s health and well-being.
We are not surprised by the APPG’s findings, but are concerned by them, and the fact that child poverty targets have been removed. We support their recommendations and hope that the government will stand by its promise to support the most vulnerable groups in the UK.”
As I led this week’s Common’s debate for Labour on the Consideration of Lords Amendments on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, I welcome the The Lancet’s comments on the report and hope the Government take heed of them as their opinion is respected around the world .
The all-party report clearly illustrates that the Government’s attempts at an economic recovery are being built on the backs of the poor and vunerable, widening the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.
Work does not protect against poverty as two thirds of children living in poverty are in working families, and the poor and disabled have been made to pay the price. The report provides the evidence that the Government failed to. It shows the link between child poverty, child development, poor health and even premature death.
It’s unbelievable that in 2016 in the fifth wealthiest economy in the world, there are 3.7m children in the UK living in poverty. The Welfare Reform Bill introduces measures that will potentially increase the number of children growing up in poverty by 1.5 million by 2020.
This is utterly unacceptable especially when there is strong evidence which shows that eliminating child poverty in the UK would save the lives of 1,400 children under 15 every year. The UK already has the highest mortality rate for under 5s in north Europe; there is no law of nature that says children born into poor families should be five times more likely to die than children born into rich families. And the Welfare Bill will make this worse.
Like the NHS, our social security system is based on principles of inclusion, support and security for all, assuring us all of our dignity and the basics of life, should any one of us become ill or disabled, or fall on hard times.“The Welfare Reform and Work Bill is simply about cuts to our social security system.”
The Welfare Reform and Work Bill – which is also set to cut £30 a week from the benefits of sick and disabled people who have been found unfit to work – was rejected by the Lords and sent back to the Commons with suggested amendments. MPs debated the Lords’ amendments this week but the Government rejected them, winning the vote by 306-279, which means the Bill will return to the Lords next week.