Friday 28 March 2014

Giving a voice to child casualties of the callous Coalition on Saturday

I heard recently about a child who faced exclusion from a local academy school because of recent lateness. He is late because the family were evicted from their home and moved to temporary accommodation in a bed and breakfast hotel a long way from the school. Dad says they get up at 6.30am. I have seen the sad sight of the  family's belongings, including the children's toys, piled high in their ex-home's front garden because there was no room for their belongings in the two hotel rooms they are allocated.

I have heard about a mother having to improvise cooking facilities in the bathroom of their bed and breakfast hotel so as to be able to feed their children.

There is absolutely no doubt that children are the most vulnerable casualties of the Coalition's war on the poor.  This is something that many teachers acknowledged when they spoke to me during the strike day. They see the children every day, they see the stress in the children's parents and hear from distressed children the possibility that they may be moved to Luton, Milton Keynes, Birmingham away from their friends and family - away from their support systems. In time these families will cost the state far more in treating the consequences of this ill treatment than it will have saved in cutting benefit.

The long term impact on the stability of the family and their mental and physical health is incalculable. The impact on children's life chances hardly bears thinking about.

Saturday's demonstration aims to give a voice to these children.  They will be encouraged to wear their school uniforms to highlight how the benefit cuts, council tax charges, bedroom tax etc are affecting school age children.

I have to attend another local event on that day but hope that this demonstration gets the support it deserves.

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