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Gordon Brown: Labour will ‘turn the tide’ on child poverty

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has said a Labour government could be “a landmark in turning the tide against child poverty”, as leaders demanded the issue takes centre stage.

Writing for Schools Week, ASCL president John Camp said “childhood poverty and family destitution is the most pressing social policy issue” which “sits at the very heart of some of the major challenges facing the education system”.

“The next government must show determination and ambition in its desire to eradicate childhood poverty,” said Camp, also chief executive of The Compass Partnership of Schools. “If it does, our sector can be pivotal in helping it achieve that aim.”

A study in April found there are now 4,000 school-based food banks in England – more than run by charities – equating to one in five schools.

Speaking in a Labour campaign video this week, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said it would be the “responsibility of the whole cabinet, driven by the prime minister, to end the child poverty we are seeing at the minute”.

Rayner and Brown

A Programme for International Student Assessment study found one in ten youngsters in England skipped meals at least once a week, on par with countries like Mexico and Moldova.

A Unicef study last year also found UK child poverty levels leapt by about 20 per cent between 2012 and 2021.

‘Schools should be integral’

School leaders have called for a cross-government poverty strategy. Children’s commissioner Rachel de Souza wants a poverty tsar.

Camp added schools “should be integral to the development of cross-governmental policies to transform children’s lives across the country”.

Labour has pledged a cross-government taskforce to tackle the issue, with child poverty reduction experts “at the heart of this work”.

“Labour will put a focus on reducing child poverty at the centre of how we secure opportunity for children and young people from every background and every corner of our country,” the party’s missions document added.

Brown, Labour prime minister from 2007 to 2010, said that “every department is really a children’s department”.

“There’s initiatives that could start immediately to make a huge difference. This next Labour government has a chance to be a landmark in turning the tide against child poverty.”

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