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Poverty as children know it

01 November 2013

By a staff reporter


MORE than half of children in poverty in the UK are living in cold homes, and a quarter are living in damp and mouldy conditions, says a new report, Through Young Eyes.

The Children's Society surveyed about 2000 ten- to 17-year-olds, asking about their experiences of living in poverty. Those who said that their family "were not well off at all" had an average family income of just £9200, and three-quarters of these young people said that they often worried about how little money their family had. Fifty-three per cent said their homes were too cold last winter; and 26 per cent that they suffered from damp or mould.

Half of those asked thought that child poverty had increased over the past decade; and four in ten that it would increase further. More than half also said they felt embarrassed by their family's poverty, and 14 per cent said they had been bullied about it.

The proportion of children in poverty had nearly doubled in the past 30 years, the report said, and six out of ten children in poverty had parents who worked.

Through Young Eyes was being released to mark the first-ever Children's Commission on Poverty, which will allow children to speak for themselves about their experiences of living in poverty. A panel of 15 children and teenagers will look at what needs to be done to improve living standards.

The chief executive of the Children's Society, Matthew Reed, said: "For millions of people up and down the country, poverty is a grinding reality - and it is getting worse. Most families are facing stark and unacceptable choices, such as heat or eat. This is disgraceful in any country, especially in one of the world's richest."

Through Young Eyes can be found on the web at www.childrenssociety.org.uk

"National crisis". Campaigners on fuel poverty this week demanded action from the Government on the "national crisis" of cold homes. The campaign group Energy Bill Revolution - an alliance of charities including Age UK and Barnardos - said that the biggest problem in the UK was "leaky homes". It called for investment in a domestic-insulation programme; and said that "woeful" levels of insulation had left Britain way behind comparable European countries such as Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Public Health England advised people this week to keep their homes heated to between 18°C and 21°C to avoid health problems.

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