UK Austerity Harms Our Children

 

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Children are arriving in school hungry, sick, without equipment and inadequately dressed. It sounds like something from a Charles Dickens novel but it is not – it is 2015 and this is the UK.

A survey commissioned by NASUWT reports that children are coming to school “hungry, and unable to concentrate, exhausted from living in cramped and inadequate housing and unable to afford to join in activities”.

How is it that a child in 2015 Britain can arrive at school hungry and with no socks or coat? The following statistics show how the lives of our children and young people are being degraded by poverty and they are truly shocking.

80% of teachers report seeing children attending school inadequately dressed in winter;
78% report seeing pupils lacking energy and concentration because of hunger;
62% have lent, given or paid for basic equipment needed for school;
32% have taught pupils living in temporary accommodation.

We are not a poor nation nor a third world one, why are our children suffering like this?

These shocking statistics come after five years of governmental austerity measures that have and will continue to put unnecessary pressure on hard pushed parents. Parents who have no choice but to send a sick child into school because they cannot afford to take time off work. Parents who have been made homeless by rising housing costs. Parents who are reliant on food banks to feed their children.

The government claims to be committed to providing higher quality education for all children but it is a fact a child who has no food to eat, no secure home, no books to read, whose parents cannot afford the money to get them to school or provide them with adequate school clothing will not be learning to their full ability, it is just not possible.

Poverty and homelessness as a result of governmental austerity will take a physical and emotional toll on our children. A tired child who has no secure home or space to do homework, is hungry and lacks the ability to concentrate is more likely to suffer sickness, long-term ill health and therefore prolonged absenteeism,