Many constituents have contacted me about the important issue of cuts to children's services and campaigns by The Children’s Society.
I share concerns that the Government is not doing enough to help vulnerable young people. The Tories have cut local authority budgets, including in Southwark, by almost 50% since 2010, – forcing counselling and support services to be scaled back and youth clubs to close. I was extremely disappointed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, failed to provide any additional funding for children’s services in the recent Autumn Budget.
The Government’s cuts and benefit changes have forced more children into poverty – almost four million children in the UK today live in relative poverty and a third of families struggle to pay the bills. This means children going hungry, being cold in their homes and lacking school essentials.
The last Labour Government prioritised the welfare of vulnerable children and lifted a million children out of poverty. The next Labour Government will do so again through:
- The introduction of a new Child Poverty Strategy,
- Raising the minimum wage to a living wage of £10 an hour to improve living standards for children in the most disadvantaged families
- Reforming Universal Credit
- Introducing universal free school meals
- Providing greater support to children from low income families and working to close the attainment gap between children from different backgrounds by investing £90 million per year in school-based counselling and cutting class sizes.
I will continue to work with my Labour colleagues to put pressure on the Government to do more to help the most disadvantaged children.