Child Poverty in Dundee : The Economic Reasons for Tackling Poverty

27 June 2013

According to Child Poverty Action in Scotland , one in 4 of children in Dundee is living in poverty.

The figure is large and dreadful , but the figure itself must underrate the intensity of misery that many children in poor families right across the UK feel -

Not being to have “luxuries” that other children take for granted, not knowing if your parent or parents will be able to provide food for every day, every week, and the continual need to conceal your poor background from others.

Growing up poor increases the prospects that you end up poor in adult life , that your educational and employment prospects will be limited, and that your income will be low.

Alongside the moral case that the poor must not be abandoned to poverty rests the financial case.

There are sound economic reasons for tackling poverty.

Five years ago research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation calculated that the annual cost of child poverty in the UK cost £25 billion a year.

Around half of this £25 billion results from the reduction in economic output identified with overall lower skill levels  plus the greater risk of unemployment that an upbringing and life in poverty carries.

The other half arose from the extra public spending needed to deal with the consequences of child poverty

The Centre for Social Policy have revised these figures for 2013 and have arrived at an estimate of £29 billion a year.

This comprised of :

Spending on services to deal with the consequences of child poverty £15 billion

Tax revenues lost to government as a result of people earning less £3.5 billion

Benefits spent on people who are out of work more £2.4 billion

Loss in private post-tax earnings by adults  £8½ billion

That is £29 billion that could be used productively to improve the economy and society instead of paying for the consequences of poverty.

That is a decision for Government, and the last Labour Government did manage to cut child poverty substantially, taking 1 million of out of poverty, if not reaching the target it set.

Its Child Poverty Act of 2010 passed into law by which the UK Government is duty-bound to eradicate child poverty in Britain by 2020 once and for all.

In the East End ward, the figure for child poverty is around 1 in 3 .

A great deal must be done to help poor families in the communities within the ward who share the common goals of working together to make the communities stronger and to escape from the restraints that poverty imposes.

Amongst them , there is no poverty of ambition - they want to be in employment,  there is no poverty of ideas about how to move out of poverty, and no poverty of spirit  - it will sustain them in doing so.

What they want is what the economy needs them to have  - a well-paid, full-time job.

That would put them on the road that assuredly leads out of poverty.


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