by Jas Bains (CEO of Ashram HA)
Today Save the Children published their Child Poverty in 2012: It shouldn’t happen here report. This highlights the impact of the recession on Britain’s children and the severity of poverty experienced by 3.5 million children, with 1.6 million of those children living in acute poverty.
Findings show children are growing up under emotional and material strain – without their own beds, missing meals particularly hot ones, lacking warm coats in winter and loosing out on learning opportunities, including going on school trips. Moreover it argues child poverty is expected rise over the coming years due to spending cuts, inflation and economic stagnation.
The report notably states that a majority of children in poverty come from working households with an annual income of less than £17,000. They are thus calling on the government to encourage the adoption of the living wage alongside improved support with childcare costs, and the strengthening of the new welfare system.
Many of the children discussed in this report can be found living in social housing. As responsible landlords, housing associations need more than ever to take greater direct action to address child poverty. This includes negotiating with local authorities to incorporate the payment of living wages into our contract delivery. The same could be asked of our procurement contractors.
Beyond this there are a multitude of added-value initiatives housing associations can engage in to lessen the burden of poverty, child poverty in particular. Housing associations have a long-term investment in deprived neighbourhoods in the form of fixed assets. As other services withdraw and resources contract, there is a moral and business case for our asset rich organisations to innovatively invest in both the people and the neighbourhoods that we serve.