Monday, 6 April 2015

Children shouldn’t be coming to school hungry in 2015.

At their annual conference in Cardiff this Easter members of the NASUWT trades union have talked about seeing ‘Victorian’ levels of poverty in British schools.

Out of more than two thousand members questioned in a survey one in four said they had brought food in to school to feed youngsters who were at risk of going hungry, three in four said they had seen children coming to school during cold weather without adequate clothing.

In a report published on the BBC news website one delegate is quoted as saying ‘Children in 2015 should not be hungry and coming to school with no socks on and no coats, some children are living in Victorian conditions.’

NASUWT general secretary Chris Harvey, also quoted by the BBC, said that poverty took a ‘physical and emotional toll on children’ and that ‘schools cannot be expected to pick up the pieces.’

Responding to the survey results a spokesperson for the Conservative Party told the BBC ‘the number of children living in poverty has fallen by 300,000’ over the past five years and that through its policies the government had created a situation where jobs are more plentiful and ‘wages are rising faster than prices and family budgets are starting to go further.’

Children coming to school hungry and without warm clothing is the ugly face of five years of austerity economics, the government may claim to have created more jobs; however many of those are insecure and poorly paid.

Poverty experienced in childhood can have consequences that impact on a person’s physical and mental health for a lifetime. That children should have this experience in one of the world’s richest countries is shocking and shameful.

The Green Party would tackle these problems through policies aimed at creating a society that serves the common good.

These include tackling the housing shortage by building half a million social homes over five years and introducing a living rent tenancy to link annual rent rises to the consumer price index. Making work pay by raising the minimum wage to £10 per hour by 2020 and ensuring the highest wage in any organisation can never be more than ten times that of the lowest, and closing the equality gap by ensuring the richest 1% of the population give 2% of their income annually to be used for the common good.

Through our commitment to a new type of politics that serves the needs and hopes of ordinary working people rather than big corporations the Green Party working in government with its progressive partners would work to slay for good the giant of poverty the three main parties refuse to recognise let alone confront.

Adam Colclough is the Press Officer for North Staffs Green Party and a candidate in the local elections

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