Too many children across our country live in poverty. This includes nearly a quarter of all children in my Barnsley Central constituency.
I do not believe it is acceptable that so many children who grow up in my constituency, and across the country, do so in poverty.
The last Labour Government was committed to tackling child poverty and made significant progress. We introduced Sure Start, expanded childcare, and significantly increased spending on education.
We had the ambition to give all children the best start in life, no matter what their background.
The Conservative Government has stalled actions to reduce child poverty, instead attempting to redefine child poverty to cover up their record of failure.
A decent childhood should be a right, not a privilege. It is the foundation upon which a person’s future is built.
In order for children to thrive, they need to have five needs met:
1. To be healthy
2. To have somewhere safe and warm to live
3. To learn
4. To live in a community with a strong local economy which supports decent jobs
5. To feel supported
We need a plan to tackle both the symptoms and the causes of child poverty. A key challenge in Barnsley is increasing awareness of the various services available and ensuring that coordination allows these services to be joined up with local organisations.
The Conservative Government must do more to tackle child poverty:
* Expand the Living Wage.
* Protect tax credits for working families.
* Deliver good quality and secure job opportunities locally.
* Automatically register pupils who are entitled to the Pupil Premium – many entitled children are missing out on free school meals, the measure by which Pupil Premium funding is allocated.
* Scrap the extension of the Right to Buy scheme to the housing association sector.