Child poverty does untold damage to society

My compliments on the excellent report about a third of Pendle children living in poverty.

A classic case of the local effects of a national problem. I was going to write back the next week but thought I would wait to see if Pendle Liberal Democrats would have anything to say on the matter.

The Labour Party issued a short and commendable letter, but from the Conservative Party’s partners in crime, not a word. I still strongly support the Liberal Democrats on a local basis but find it hard to believe that, at a national level, the party can support these outrageous attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. And they don’t come more vulnerable than children.

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As your quotes from Barnardo’s show, children living in poverty suffer far worse health problems, higher infant mortality, a poorer start to their education and finish it with much lower exam results. Our MP may quote some of the things the Government is doing to help in schools (while children’s centres around the country are closing for lack of funds) but they don’t put healthy food on the family table and decent clothes on the children’s backs and keep their homes warm.

Yes, the economy is in trouble but we are still one of the richest countries in the world and it wasn’t the poor and disabled that caused the recession: it was greedy bankers and Andrew Stephenson’s rich friends (like Lord Ashcroft who financed his election campaign in 2010). They get a tax cut as a punishment and stash their millions in tax havens.

The number of children living in poverty trebled under Thatcher, levelled off under John Major and came down rapidly under the last Labour Government. It’s now back at Thatcher levels again and is set to rise further as many of the cuts are still to come. The Liberal Democrats at a national level hold the balance of power. All they had to do was say no. Perhaps if their local parties had been brave enough to condemn them publicly they might have done. And I think their standings in the opinion polls would have been the better for it.

At a Liberal Democrat meeting just after the Coalition was formed, I said I would judge the result of the Coalition by how well the vulnerable, particularly women and children, were protected. My judgement is that they have failed miserably and in doing so, caused untold damage to our society, which will last for generations.

Mike Warner

Liberal Pendle Councillor from 1982 - 1990