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BASW responds to new child poverty figures

It has been revealed that before the pandemic 4.3 million children across the UK were living in poverty

New research by the End Child Poverty Coalition has revealed that before the pandemic, 4.3 million children across the UK were living in poverty. This is a 200,000 increase on the previous year and a 500,000 increase compared to five years ago.

BASW finds these figures deeply concerning, particularly given the economic effects the pandemic has had on millions of families across the UK. Indeed, it is likely that these figures are now significantly higher than they were pre-pandemic.

The experience of poverty has profound negative social and psychological effects on individuals and families - and adversely impacts the education and health outcomes of children and young people.

Child poverty has a significant impact on the number and types of cases that social workers are dealing with in their roles. While there will always be a small proportion of families who need statutory social work intervention, for those families who are already struggling poverty makes things much harder. Poverty impacts on the number of families who are investigated as part of child protection concerns, as well as the numbers of children who are taken into state care.

Adequate financial support is one key route – but not the only route – to supporting vulnerable families. BASW is therefore against the Government's proposal to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week in the Autumn.

These latest child poverty figures show that the current levels of financial support offered by the state are inadequate. The Government's plans to cut financial support is not a policy consistent with the aim of reducing child poverty. Cutting Universal Credit is also a false economy; it will only result in more money being spent on statutory intervention in the long term.

BASW adds its voice to calls for Government and policymakers to ensure that eradicating child poverty is a priority - and to recognise the impact that child poverty has on the wider social support sector.