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National Delegate Conference Bournemouth 19-22 June 2012

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Child poverty: An injustice we have to fight.

Kate Ramsden
Kate Ramsden

UNISON will lobby and work with a range of organisations to campaign for an end to child poverty by 2020.

Moving the Aberdeenshire motion, Kate Ramsden told delegates that almost 4 million children live in poverty in the UK – one of the highest rates in the industrialised world. Here we cover her speech in full.

“Almost 4 million children live in poverty in the UK – one of the highest rates in the industrialized world.

And child poverty is on the rise.

Across the UK it is set to rise by 400,000 by 2015

And this upward trend is expected to continue

That means that rather that child poverty being eradicated by 2020, in line with the Child Poverty Act, by 2020 almost a quarter of our children will live in poverty

According to UNICEF, this is a direct result of this Government’s cuts

Cuts which we all know hit the poor more than the rich

Cuts which affect us all as staff and service users

Cuts which have a terrible impact on the most vulnerable in our communities

Cuts which will thrust more and more children into poverty

And which will reverse the work of the previous Labour government – which did better than many rich countries to protect children from deprivation after the last financial crisis

If there is anything at all which highlights the inequality and social injustice of this Condem government, it is that increasing numbers of our children live in poverty whilst the richest 1% get ever richer

It’s hearing that in some of our biggest cities, more than a quarter of our children already grow up in poverty whilst banks and big businesses still pay out millions of pounds in bonuses on top of annual salaries into the millions.

What can one person do with all that money?

How can they sleep at night knowing that they take that money whilst so many of our children can barely afford to eat?

But the impact of child poverty is wider even than that.

You just can’t underestimate the effects on children of growing up in poverty

Their lives are affected day in and day out

They are less likely to do well at school, or to go on to further education or employment

They miss out on school trips and hobbies – things that many of us take for granted

Their health suffers and they will even die younger than their better off counterparts

And welfare reforms will make matters even worse

Again it is the poorest in our society and our children who are paying the price for the financial crisis whilst the rich who created the crisis get off Scot free

If ever there was an injustice that should unite us to fight it, it is child poverty

And not just those of us in this Conference hall, or our UNISON colleagues back in our workplaces

It should unite every citizen in this country who has an ounce of compassion and care for others

We should all of us be raising our voices against a government who thinks it is okay in the 21st Century to have almost a quarter of our children living in poverty

So why is that not happening?

Because this government had also put out the insidious message that if people live in poverty, somehow that is their own fault

A tactic to demonise the poor that has been used since the time of the Highland Clearances and probably before

A tactic which divides and rules decent people and which is more likely to happen at times of austerity

But Conference, we can’t let that happen.

Not ever, but especially not now, when more that half of children who live in poverty have at least one parent in work

When your chances of living in poverty increases when your parent is disabled

If we are low paid, if we have a disability these could be our children, and if they are not, they are almost certainly the children of colleagues, workmates and friends

Conference, child poverty could be ended tomorrow if the political will was there to do it

The money is there – it’s just in the wrong hands

Instead this government denies child poverty is increasing

It says we are just measuring it wrongly

According to them it’s nothing to do with how little money families get to care for their children!

Well what would the 18 millionaires in the cabinet know about that!

So it’s up to us to take forward the arguments for action to end child poverty

To put tackling child poverty back at the heart of our union’s political agenda and to continue to make child poverty central to the fight against public service and welfare cuts

To monitor and highlight the impact of public service cuts, benefit changes and job losses on children in the UK, as part of the “million voices” and Public Works Campaign.

And to fight for a living wage for all

It’s up to us to hold the Condem Government accountable for meeting their statutory duties under the Child Poverty Act to end child poverty by 2020

It will need all of you to go back to your branches, to your families and your friends and tell them what is happening to our children while the rich rake in their bonuses and inflated incomes and avoid their taxes

While this government puts the interests of their chums in big business before our children.

Conference, I said it last year and I’ll say it again

This is about what kind of society we want to live in

Please let’s make it one in which no child has to grow up in poverty

Please support the motion.






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