Bradford social security expert says poor children will be hit the hardest (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford social security expert says poor children will be hit the hardest
Bradford families are feeling austerity cuts more sharply and have an increasing reliance on food banks, a leading figure on child poverty and social studies has warned.
Baroness Ruth Lister, a former Professor and head of the department of applied social studies at Bradford University, was at a conference at the university’s Heaton Mount yesterday on Austerity Cuts and the Impact on Children, Families and Communities.
She estimates that within the next five years there will be more than 200,000 more children in poverty nationally because of the austerity policies being implemented by the Government.
Hosted by university’s Division of Social Work department, the conference was attended by Paul Hill, head of safeguarding services at Bradford Council, Councillor Ralph Berry, the executive member for Children’s Services, and Peter Rutherford, of children’s charity Barnardo’s.
The main speech was delivered by the Baroness, who sits on the Human Rights (Joint Committee) in the House of Lords and is now involved with shaping social security legislation.
She is also the honorary president of the Child Poverty Action Group.
Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus before the conference, she said that austerity cuts by the Government were not properly taking children’s needs into account which could contravene the UN convention on the rights of the child.
“Children in poorer households are going to be largely hit,” she said.
“There is the impact of bedroom tax, council tax and the abolition of the discretionary social fund and the growing reliance on food banks concerns me hugely.
“I was speaking to a UN commissioner on the right to food and he was expressing a big concern on the growing reliance on food banks.
“He argued that was indicative of a breakdown of protection systems.
“That is not to criticise those running them, they kind of become a safety net under a safety net.
“People shouldn’t have to rely on charity. I don’t think cutting the deficit helps, it is counter productive taking money out of the community.
“We should have raised taxes and made less public spending cuts.
“I think if we are really all in it together it should be shared more fairly and has to be done through tax on those better off.
“I don’t think the Government, in my view, has done what it can to protect those who are already disadvantaged.
“It is not just people out of work. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is helping more people on low wages, who are having to turn to food banks.
“There will be a big increase of children living in poverty. The way the austerity policy is going to impact will be very unjust.
“It is hitting an area where more people are living in poverty and hitting the local authority which they rely on more.
“It all reinforces the injustice and inequality. For someone who used to live and work in Bradford it makes me very sad.
“We are really going to struggle, all in the name of localism. It’s a joke, it is not localism at all.
“Social workers are really at the sharp end and the danger is social work is under so much pressure it goes into crisis mode.
“It is really important that social workers understand what poverty does to families.
“Families in poverty said that social workers don’t always treat them with respect, there is the constant vilification of strivers versus skivers.”
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