It’s nearly a year since the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health first joined forces with Child Poverty Action Group to explore the links between poverty and children’s health. We know that four million children in the UK live in poverty, and we know that there is a demonstrable link between social disadvantage and poor health outcomes, but we wanted to look beyond the data and discover what our members – paediatricians – were seeing on the frontline.
In his Manifesto, Sadiq Khan boldly declared that ‘in a city as prosperous as London, there is no excuse for child poverty’. He repeated this statement almost word-for-word in A City for All Londoners, his new vision for London, published in October last year. Obviously we agree, but what action has he taken since to tackle the drivers of child poverty? And by this we mean the high housing costs, lack of affordable childcare, underemployment and low pay in the capital.
We entered this general election campaign with child poverty at 4 million, projected to rise to 5.1 million by the end of the next parliament (assuming it’s a five-year term). The next government must get to grips with the underlying causes of poverty to make sure all children have a great start in life – and the opportunity to thrive. We have set out the practical steps politicians can take after 8 June to tackle child poverty.