Vulnerable children Vs The cost of living crisis

The UK is currently set to suffer from yet another national crisis. With the soaring rates of inflation set to reach an all-time new height, the devastating effects are being felt by many families, especially those in the most vulnerable situation. Here, Rubecca Rahman looks at the effect the cost of living crisis may have on children in the most vulnerable households.

Basic needs such as heating, food and clothing are all factors which will be affected once the crisis hits. Many families are facing the devasting reality of living within the crisis and for many vulnerable families, the reality is real. The cost-of-living crisis is not just an economic challenge. It also has a knock-on effect on a person’s mental health and social well-being – particularly for the many young people that face the prospect of a cold, hungry and uncertain winter.

Many independent organisations have warned of the consequences the cost-of-living crisis will have on a child’s health, education, and well-being. According to statistics, 1 in 3 children already live in poverty. These numbers are set to rise even further due to the recent inflation rates. The causes of the rise in inflation are complex. Years of austerity combined with dormant wages and cuts to benefits have left many exposed to financial risk. Then came the global Covid-19 pandemic which rocked families even further and pushed many families below the line of poverty.

The effects and impacts of poverty are well known. However, a less well-known fact is the growing evidence that poverty is a major factor in child abuse and neglect – one of the leading reasons for children entering the care system. Whether it’s the failure or inability of a parent to care for and provide the basic needs for the child or a parent’s helplessness to escape an abusive partner because of financial hardships, there are more and more children facing the risk of entering care. As a result, children are not able to reach their full potential. Their chance of a safe and happy childhood is immediately taken away.

Throughout the years, child poverty has risen significantly and the rise in the number of children entering care has coincided with rising child poverty cases. The most recent figures available show 4.3 million children living in poverty. Furthermore, in England, children in the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods are over ten times more likely to be in care or under some type of protection plan. Further research also suggests children living in low-income households are three times more likely to suffer from some form of mental health problems than their more affluent peers. Additionally, children born into poverty are more likely to experience a wide range of health problems, including poor nutrition and chronic disease. Poverty also places an additional strain on families and relationships leading to further struggles.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely these figures will fall anytime soon, as the full impact of the pandemic and the cost of living becomes apparent, the situation is likely to worsen. The cost of living is expected to accelerate pre-existing trends of greater poverty and inequality within the UK. A child-centred approach is therefore fundamental in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of every child. This approach focuses on the child’s needs when making decisions about their lives and working in partnership with them and their families to come to an agreement.

What does this look like in reality? Children must be put at the forefront of any discussion between parents and/or legal parties to ensure that they are warm, well fed and most importantly safe. Reach out to family members or obtain professional help and assistance to care for the child. Ultimately it is important to safeguard their interest and needs.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised here, please get in touch today. We are here to help.

  • Rubecca Rahman