Health and Housing
In recent years, many have begun to view improved service provision as the most effective means of tackling poverty. It is recognised that across the board – from education to health, housing to childcare – poorer people tend to get a worse deal than their wealthier counterparts in terms of the availability and the quality of public services.
Improving services that poorer families use would go some way towards smoothing out the stresses of their lives. But services cannot substitute for income. Consider, for example, the prevalence of childhood asthma in low-income families. While improved healthcare can help families manage this distressing condition better, it cannot tackle the underlying reasons why more poor children suffer from asthma than their wealthier peers, the most obvious of which is damp and sub-standard housing.
The following pages outline various shortcomings of current service provision which need to be tackled if low-income families are to get a fairer deal. Yet without adequate family incomes, children cannot fully take advantage of improved services no matter how effectively targeted these may be.