Poverty can mean children going without basic necessities – going to school or bed hungry, wearing shoes that are too small or let the rain in, or sleeping on a mattress on the floor because there is no money for a bedframe.
It can mean missing out on everyday fun, play and relaxed time with family because family outings are too expensive, and being excluded from social activities with friends because there isn’t money for a cinema ticket or birthday present.
My niece didn’t go on hers [school trip] and she was one of only two children in the whole class of 32 that didn’t go and she cried when I picked her up from school because all her friends had been but she hadn’t been.Parent of primary school child
Poverty denies children chances to try new things and develop their interests and talents through extra-curricular clubs and even school trips and activities.
The place where she was happy and thrived was in dance classes and I now can’t pay for them and that was the thing she looked forward to every week, she made friends there; she doesn’t have friends at school as such but at dance she had friends, yeah, and we’ve had, we’ve had to stop all that.Jessica - single parent, York
For many children, poverty also means growing up too soon – having to deal with adult worries and anxieties when they are still children.
I skip meals to share with my mum...for example, I skip my meal to wait for her to come back and at least we can have the same amount of food...[We] starve together through the whole day, so at least we will have had something to eat.Amara - aged 15, London
Poverty affects all aspects of childhood. It affects friendships and opportunities, creating isolation, stigma and sadness.
Agree that this isn't right?
Together as a community, we’re demanding real action from the UK’s leaders to give kids the security they need by helping families who don’t have enough money.
We asked children in low-income families what they missed
How poverty affects physical and mental health
Poverty affects health even before birth.
Children born to parents living in poverty are more likely to be low birthweight and less likely to survive the first year of life.
They are also more likely to suffer from asthma and other childhood diseases.
Children who grow up in poverty may also experience poor health in later life as a result.
Children in poverty are more likely to have poor mental health and are at higher risk of psychological distress.
How poverty affects education
Children growing up in poverty on average do less well in education.
Gaps open up very early – even before children start school – and persist and even widen after that.
Children from the lowest income families are less likely to achieve the standard benchmarks at age 11, make slower progress in secondary school, and are much less likely to attend the most selective higher education institutions. This has an impact on levels of educational attainment and later job opportunities and wages
The cost of child poverty
Child poverty is costing the country money, directly and indirectly.
Having so many families and their children in poverty draws huge costs from other government budgets: poorer physical and mental health impacts the NHS, poorer educational attainment reduces workforce skills, and additional public services are needed to cushion the effects of living in poverty.