Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 29th May 2019

It’s hard to imagine how some people can argue poverty is okay in the Twenty-First Century and particularly in the United Kingdom, one of the wealthiest countries in the world. However, for all the many ways people manage to blame the poor for their suffering, the one form of poverty which should be inexcusable to any of us is child poverty.

No one chooses to be born, let alone to be born into a state of poverty. People once claimed it was all due to families having too many children, yet UK birth rates have been in almost continuous decline for over 50 years. People say it’s due to families not working, but over two-thirds of child poverty occurs in working families. None of the excuses hold water any longer.

The latest figures from the End Child Poverty Coalition last month show that in Crawley 8,832 children are living in poverty, that’s about a third of all our children. I write a column like this once a year and every year the figures keep getting worse. These aren’t children living overseas, they’re living in houses near to your own, they are going to the same schools as your children and grandchildren. Why are we as a town okay with this?

As a country we have the money to fix this problem. Great progress was made in the late nineties and early naughties in ending child poverty, so why did it stop? Because the things which voters chose to prioritise when they went to the vote changed. Even charities are now openly stating that the problem has been caused by changes to Government policy, changes which could easily be reversed if that was what voters wanted.

The result on Sunday showed that Brexit remains one of the strongest, if not the strongest, reason for people now selecting a party to vote for. Voters have the right to decide what matters the most for them, but I would ask that the next time an election rolls around people at least consider there might be other causes out there desperately crying out for their help.

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