Tackle the scandal of child poverty in working households

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CSAN- the social action arm of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has urged the government to “tackle the growing scandal of child poverty in working households” and take steps to promote the living wage as part of its Child Poverty Strategy.

Highlighting the growing number of working families supported by CSAN’s member charities, Chief Executive Helen O’Brien said:

“We welcome commitments outlined today including enforcement of the Minimum Wage and a review of zero-hour contracts. However the government needs to go further if it is to tackle the growing scandal of child poverty in working households.

The majority of children in poverty have at least one parent in work. Often insecure employment arrangements and unacceptably low wages mean they still struggle to afford basic costs like food, rent or utility bills.

If the government wants to make real progress in tackling child poverty it needs to recognise that work is not an automatic route out of hardship, look seriously at measures to promote a living wage and stop the squeeze on benefits paid to working families.”

Rosemary Keenan, Chief Executive of the Catholic Children’s Society (Westminster), a CSAN member charity working to support some of the poorest children in London added:

“Every day we work with parents who are in employment but still have to make the impossible choice between heating their homes and putting food on the table. This situation is only becoming worse as the Minimum Wage and Child Benefit are left behind by soaring prices.

It is easy to say that a job provides the best route out of poverty but for children growing up in damp, cold or overcrowded homes, even though their parents spend all week working, the reality is very different.”

CSAN’s Patron, Cardinal Vincent Nichols has consistently emphasised the importance of just wages. At CSAN’s conference The Catholic Response to the Poverty Crisis last year he stated:

“More than five million workers bring home an income insufficient to cover basic outgoings and the significant majority of child poverty exists in working households…this lays down a challenge not only to the state but to the private and social sector – indeed to all those upon whom people depend for their livelihood. The Church itself is no exception.”