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CHILDHOOD POVERTY

Examining a Child
Cost of living and childhood poverty in South Devon 

5,317 children are living in Poverty in South Devon, and the majority (77%)  of them are from working families. 

This is a truly shocking statistic and belies the image of the rural idyll in South Devon. Read my thoughts below and how the Liberal Democrats intend to tackle this issue.

We know that poverty ruins childhoods and damages children’s life chances. There is strong evidence that growing up on a low income can negatively impact a child’s early development, physical and mental health, how well they do at school, their employment prospects, and their earning potential as adults.  

  • Four in 10 schoolchildren on free school meals achieve five passes at GCSE (including Maths and English), compared to seven in 10 children not on free school meals. (1) 

  • Children from low-income families are four times more likely to experience mental health problems than children from higher-income families. (2) 

  • Children in cold homes are more than twice as likely to suffer from a range of respiratory problems compared to children living in warm homes (3 ) 

  • By age 25, only 23% of people eligible for free school meals during their school years have an income higher than the national living wage, compared to 44% of other pupils (4)

Over the last two years, I have visited several food banks in the South Devon constituency and talked to the volunteers, staff, and those using them. All food banks have seen a huge increase in families regularly relying on them. 

At one food bank managed by the Trussell Trust the number of food parcels has more than quadrupled from 266 in 2018 to a staggering 1,355 parcels in 2023.

The Liberal Democrats would extend free school meals, increase funding for schools and enrich extra-curricular activities to include art, music, drama, sport, coding and other activities, starting with a new free entitlement for disadvantaged children.

Read more about how the Lib Dems plan to address this tragedy and support children:

You can read more here: 

Investing in our Children's Future - Liberal Democrats (libdems.org.uk)



 

Sources

  1. https://www.djsresearch.co.uk/EducationMarketResearchInsightsAndFindings/article/Children-who-are-eligible-for-free-school-meals-do-worse-at-school-even-at-five-years-old-finds-survey-05180#:~:text=Since%202006%2C%20children%20who%20are,pupils%20on%20free%20school%20meals.

  2.  https://www.local.gov.uk/publications/children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-independent-review-policy-success-and#:~:text=Poverty%3A%20Children%20from%20low%2Dincome,factors%20(Khan%2C%202018).

  3. https://www.ncb.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/files/Housing%2520and%2520the%2520Health%2520of%2520Young%2520Children.pdf

  4. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/educationandchildcare/articles/whyfreeschoolmealrecipientsearnlessthantheirpeers/2022-08-04

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