New research has revealed that families on minimum wage are 18% short of the amount needed for a basic standard of living. Here, MN blogger Catherine Mann argues that parenting must not become the preserve of the rich.
Everyone knows that August is an expensive time to be a parent. Whether it's paying for a holiday away, funding all-day childcare while school is shut, or just buying a round of ice creams on a day out - the break from routine can't help but put additional pressure on the family budget. And that's before you start to restock the uniform drawers.
In the 1949 Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico, residents of the London borough set themselves up as a separate state with predictably comic results. When Pimlico’s governing committee lifts post-war rationing, shoppers flood to the new dominion only to find themselves trapped when its borders are later closed. As the local policeman puts it to one hapless refugee, “You should never have travelled abroad without your passport, madam”.
New research by Child Poverty Action Group shows that the cost of raising a child threatens to tip an increasing number of families into poverty.
Children cost. A lot. New research published today shows that raising a child from birth to 18 requires a minimum of £83,155 for a couple, and £96,905 for a lone parent family. (In case you are wondering, it costs a lone parent more than a couple to bring up a child because there is only one adult to make offsetting savings from their own living expenses).
There’s a lot going on behind this eye-watering figure. Part of the story is the well-known fact that costs are rising, and rising fast. The price of food – a quarter of the basic budget required for a child – has risen at 25 per cent in the last six years; housing continues to consume a growing share of a family’s budget; and the price of childcare – which can amount up to 45 per cent of the total cost of a child if both parents work full-time - continues to increase apace.
At Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), we’ve had longstanding concerns about the use of sanctions, which are basically cuts to benefit payments of up to 100% for up to 3 years, and the obvious knock-on impacts on child poverty. And as the letter in today's Times that we and others have signed shows, we’re not alone in having profound concerns with how sanctions are working.
Until now, there’s been little authoritative evidence of how sanctions are being applied, rightly or wrongly, beyond data suggesting a huge increase in their application in recent years.
"I'm not going to flannel you, I'm going to give it to you straight. I like the child benefit, I wouldn't change child benefit, I wouldn't means-test it, I don't think that is a good idea."
So said David Cameron in March 2010. But the Prime Minister is being urged to drop this read-my-lips pledge when his party draws up its manifesto in the coming months.
On Tuesday 15 July, the Geek Show Off (ticket £5.00 plus £0.50 booking fee) a comedy night raising money for Child Poverty Action Group is being held at the Star of Kings pub in central London.
Recently, I was talked into doing something I’ve been dreading. On Tuesday 15th July, with several others, I have to stand on stage in front of a crowd of people in a dark room in Camden, and for 9 minutes, make them laugh.
People often lament how the world of politics has very little to do with the ordinary lives of real people. For some parents, at least, that’s about to change.
From September, all infant school children will be entitled to a free school meal. Across the country, children from all backgrounds will sit down together to a nutritious, healthy free lunch, fuelling concentration and learning.
Next week sees the publication of probably the last set of official child poverty figures - for 2012-13 - before the 2015 general election.
Here’s a quick guide to what we should expect and what it all means.
WHAT, WHERE & WHEN?
Speech to the Human Rights Lawyers' Association 26 June 2014
It’s hardly surprising that politicians tend not to like having the lawfulness of their decisions questioned by the Courts. Like any frustrated litigant, when a Minister loses a judicial review case he or she is more likely to blame the judge than their own decision-making, whereas when they win, they’re quick to criticise the Claimant for bringing the case in the first place.