On the 6th of October 2021 the government plans to cut Family Tax Credit back to its pre-pandemic level. This means a £20 loss per week for the UKs most disadvantaged families. In Islington nearly half of our children live in poverty. These families are our families.
In 2021 food prices have gone up and will continue to rise whilst energy costs are also about to rise to rates that will affect the whole country. The government knows this is going to be a tough winter. Yet, against this backdrop of hardship, they have decided to withdraw £20 from the poorest families. This will affect thousands of people who are already struggling and suffering.
According to the Child Poverty Action Group there are already 4.3 million children living in poverty in the UK, that’s 9 children in a class of 30. This fact is made more disturbing by figures that show the UK is one of the richest countries in the world. The World Bank ranks the UK as the fifth richest.
Children who play in Islington’s adventure playgrounds are vibrant. They are imaginative and clever. They write poetry, climb ropes and paint pictures. They share with each other, tell jokes and sometimes say and do mean things. They are like all children. They have dreams for the future and want to be happy right now.
I have no doubt that many of these children will go hungry this winter. They will sit in cold, dark homes without fuel when electricity and gas card meters can no longer be fed. During some weeks there will be no fuel to cook with, so they won’t get hot meals at home.
Perhaps our government are simply unable to imagine what £20 means to a struggling family. It is important that they listen.
UK children living in poverty have described how feelings of shame and anxiety are often as bad as feeling hunger. We know through research that children who live in situations of stress and pressure often struggle at school and in their friendships. We ask our government to think about that when they consider withdrawing essential funds from families.
Child Poverty Action Group came up with a list of workers whose children have been most affected by social security cuts in the past 10 years. They are hairdressers, pharmacy assistants, teaching assistants, waiters and waitresses. They are nursery workers, van drivers, care workers and nurses. They are our families and our friends.
Islington Play Association cares about children and families, especially those who are suffering and living in poverty. We stand beside Marcus Rashford when he urges the government to reverse this cruel decision. We hope that you will too.
Lucy Benson – Head of Adventure Play