Rethinking child poverty

Child poverty is not just about income – it is a complex problem involving other factors such as family stability, education and employment, according to the Government.

Household worklessness, school achievement, and the length of time children have two birth parents caring for them are to be measured alongside the current child poverty indicator, which is income relative to the rest of the population. The aim of this, according to Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is to focus on the reasons behind families’ lives being “blighted by worklessness, educational failure, family breakdown, problem debt and poor health, as well as other problems”. Schools Minister David Laws, of the Liberal Democrats, agrees that the current income-focused measure is “not enough. The experience of child poverty is about more than whether their family income this week is low.”

Recent figures have shown that 300,000 children had moved out of poverty, but this, Duncan Smith asserts, is because of a fall in the national median income: “As we saw earlier [in 2012], when the child poverty level dropped by 2%, a fall in the median income may lift a family out of poverty on paper. Yet … real incomes did not rise and absolute poverty was unchanged.” Further to this, the previous Government’s target of reducing child poverty to 1.7 million by 2010-11 was not met: 2.3 million children were recorded as living in poverty.

As a social welfare charity, Recycling Lives UK understands that the effects of child poverty can be detrimental. We welcome sensible attempts to look into the causes of child poverty, but whilst looking into factors such as family breakdown, unemployment and educational attainment is important – indeed, as Chris Wellings, the Head of Poverty at Save the Children states, “looking at a child’s opportunities is critical” – it is not enough in itself. Positive action has to be taken to tackle these problems and improve children’s chances of living a fulfilling life.

Recycling Lives supports individuals whose backgrounds have been troubled by lack of income, fractured relationships, unemployment in the family, and many other factors. Such experiences have contributed to homelessness, or left individuals at risk of homelessness. At Recycling Lives, people are provided with a holistic support package that includes accommodation, training and employment opportunities in waste management through the Recycling Lives social business.

Not only is it Recycling Lives’ aim to help its Residents get on the path to work and independence, achieving sustainable solutions to their problems; it is also committed to sustaining charity through metal and waste recycling, via its Community Dotcom schemes such as Furniture Donation Network, Car Donation Network, and Bulky Waste. These schemes help other charities to boost their revenue and achieve their performance targets and take on more employees and volunteers – as well as contributing to the growth of the Recycling Lives social business, making sure that it is able to support more people to get out of poverty.