Children will pay the price for universal credit cut | Letters

The benefit reduction will affect child welfare services and only cost more later down the line, says Emily Aklan, while Sabine Goodwin says food banks will struggle to cope

Your article (Universal credit cut will lead to more UK children in care – study, 26 September) highlights yet another example of how cuts where children’s welfare is concerned only lead to increased costs later down the line. The average cost of a child in care is just under £60,000 a year, but there are other knock-on effects from the state of the children’s care system in the UK that are worrying from a social and economic point of view. Youth offending costs £3,787 per year, per child, and school exclusion £12,007. The cost of those in care leaving the system without a job, being in training or in education (“Neets”, a classification care leavers are three times more likely to fall into in comparison with other young people) is £4,952.

The government must invest in vulnerable children on the edge of the care system, not make cuts. Doing the latter could affect life chances and cost billions of pounds. When working with a former Bank of England economist on this issue, I found that £7bn could be saved over the next decade by the government through simply investing in early preventative measures that keep children out of the care system. If improving young lives isn’t enough, surely these figures might tempt the government to shift its attitude towards our society’s most vulnerable children?
Emily Aklan
Children’s rights campaigner, Serenity Welfare

• As a perfect storm turns into a tsunami of need, ministers must do all in their power to reverse the plan to cut universal credit next week. Independent food banks in our network are facing increasing need combined with a drop in donations and diminished surplus, wholesale and retail food supplies. Relying on already depleted food banks to yet again pick up the pieces won’t solve the problem – and the risk of demand outstripping the capacity to support people is very real.

Emergency food aid provision has always been a temporary sticking plaster on the gaping wound of poverty in the UK. Cash-first, income-based solutions, including adequate social security payments and wages that match the cost of living, are the answer. By now, even food banks are running out of options.
Sabine Goodwin
Coordinator, Independent Food Aid Network

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