Letter to the Prime Minister

Child Poverty Action Group
207 Marylebone Road, London N.W.1

22nd December 1965

Dear Prime Minister,

There is evidence that at least half a million children in this country are in homes where there is hardship due to poverty. They do not belong to a single type of family. Some have fathers who are disabled, suffering from lengthy illnesses or out of work for long periods. Some are the dependent children of women who have lost their husbands through death or desertion. The majority are members of families where the father’s earnings are low and there are several children to support.

The existence of poverty in this country today tends to be overlooked and, indeed, denied. Poverty affects the health and welfare of growing children. It creates long-term social problems. We are sure you are already convinced of the need to support the family and care for the dependent child; but we wish to draw your attention to the special problem of family poverty and to urge that action be taken by Her Majesty’s Government to alleviate it at the earliest possible moment.

The Child Poverty Action Group has prepared a memorandum on the matter and has suggested two ways in which assistance might be given to the children of poor families. It seems likely that neither of these proposals would constitute a large additional burden on the Exchequer, but the detailed figures on which calculations of cost may be made are not generally available. The signatories of this letter would probably not all agree on the precise details of a scheme for reform: we are agreed, however, that action should be taken to achieve a radical improvement in the standard of living of families in poverty and we wish to bring this memorandum to your attention. We ask that the present arrangements for family allowances and the allowances for children be reconsidered and revised, and that bigger direct allowances be paid in respect of children in the poorest families.

We earnestly beg you to see that steps are taken at the earliest possible moment to help these families.

Yours sincerely,

A.F.Philp

Chairman, Child Poverty Action Group

On behalf of the following signatories:

The Rt. Hon. BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER

Professor the Rt. Hon. LORD SIMEY OF TOXTETH

Sir JOHN MAUD, Master, University College, Oxford

BRIAN ABEL-SMITH, Professor of Social Science & Administration, London School of Economics

WALTER BIRMINGHAM, Warden, Toynbee Hall, London, Member of Child Poverty Action Group

M.F. BLIGH (Mrs), Former Children’s Moral Welfare Worker, Member of Child Poverty Action Group

JOHN BOWLBY, Director, Department of Children and Parents, Tavistock Clinic, London

TOM BURNS, Professor of Sociology, University of Edinburgh

G. M. CARSTAIRS, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh

PETER COLLISON, Professor of Social Studies, University of Newcastle

D. RUSSELL DAVIS, Professor of Mental Health, Bristol

D. V. DONNISON, Professor of Social Science & Administration, London School of Economics

BARBARA DRAKE, Children’s Officer, Tower Hamlets

A. R. EMERSON, Professor of Sociology, University of East Anglia

RONALD FLETCHER, Professor of Sociology, University of York

ERNEST GELLNER, Professor of Philosophy, London School of Economics

ELIZABETH GITTUS, Lecturer in Social Science, University of Liverpool, Member of Child Poverty Action Group

S. J. GOULD, Professor of Sociology, University of Nottingham

PAUL HALMOS, Professor of Sociology, University of College of South Wales and Monmouthshire

A. H. HALSEY, Head of Dept. of Social & Administrative Studies, University of Oxford

AUDREY HARVEY (Mrs), Author of “Housing in the Sixties” and “Casualties of the Welfare State"

KATHLEEN JONES, Professor of Social Administration and Training, University of York

KEITH KELSALL, Professor of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

A.V.S. LOCHHEAD, Director of Social Administration Courses, University College of Swansea

O. R. MCGREGOR, Professor of Social Institutions, Bedford College, London

DAVID C. MARSH, Professor of Social Science, University of Nottingham

JOHN MAYS, Eleanor Rathbone Professor of Social Science, University of Liverpool

J.N. MORRIS, Professor of Social and Preventative Medicine, University of London

ARTHUR MORTON, Director, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

GEOFFREY RANKIN, Fieldwork Organiser, Islington & North London Family Service Unit

JOHN REX, Professor of Social Theory & Institutions, University of Durham

RICHARD SCOTT, Professor of General Practice, University of Edinburgh

MORNA SMITH, Assistant General Secretary, Social Services Dept., National Association for Mental Health, Member of the Child Poverty Action Group

KENNETH SODDY, Consultant Physician in Children’s Psychiatry, University College Hospital, London

RICHARD TITMUSS, Professor of Social Science & Administration, London School of Economics

PETER TOWNSEND, Professor of Sociology, University of Essex

HARRIETT WILSON (Mrs), Lecturer in Social Science, University College of S. Wales and Monmouthshire, Cardiff, Member of Child Poverty Action Group

ROGER WILSON, Professor of Education and Social Development, University of Bristol

P. N. WORSLEY, Professor of Sociology, University of Manchester

STEPHEN WYATT, Fieldwork Organiser, Oldham & District Family Service Unit, Member of Child Poverty Action Group