Opinion Former Article

Government's record on child poverty a disgrace

The Government was today condemned for its “economically sadistic” policies which wreak misery on the most vulnerable sectors of society and drive millions into poverty.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union said it was a “disgrace” that in the fifth largest economy in the world children and young people were the victims of “callous fiscal and social policies” which the country had endured since 2010.

Ms Keates was speaking at the TUC Congress in Brighton on behalf of an NASUWT motion highlighting the devastating impact poverty has on the life chances of children and young people.

The Union’s motion at the TUC Congress in Brighton condemned the government’s record on child poverty as “shameful” and highlighted the way some schools were adding to the problem.

The government was failing to prevent some schools from stockpiling unspent reserves while cutting curriculum provision and axing teaching jobs, it added.

Delegates were also told how those children and young people growing up in poverty are less able to concentrate in lessons, more likely to be absent from school and less able to forge relationships with peers.

Ms Keates said: “Generations of children are being betrayed. Poverty is not a lifestyle choice. Poverty is not something people impose on themselves. We know where the responsibility lies.
“It lies with a government which has obsessively pursued austerity, regardless of the misery it has wreaked on the most vulnerable in our society.
“We cannot allow the Government to continue these economically sadistic policies which are driving families into poverty, poisoning the optimism of our young people and derailing and degrading the life chances of children.”

ENDS


Notes to editors

The motion reads: “Congress deplores the government’s shameful record of increasing the number of children living in households in poverty. Congress condemns government policies which have resulted in the lives of many more children being blighted by debt and financial hardship. Congress further condemns the government’s failure to prevent schools from adding to the misery of children and families by: i. stockpiling billions of pounds in unspent reserves while cutting curriculum provision and axing teacher and support staff jobs ii. exploiting parents by charging for children’s education iii. asking parents to make voluntary financial contributions to school funds. Congress welcomes the actions of affiliates in exposing the abuse by some schools of financial freedoms and flexibilities and undermining the right of every child to free, state education. Congress commits the General Council to press the government to: a. end the misery of poverty and financial hardship on children and families b. protect the right of every child to a broad, balanced and free state education c. take action to prevent schools from contributing to increasing the stigma, hardship and misery on children and families.

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