Tackling child poverty must be high on the new mayor's agenda

Yesterday Londoners went to the polls to elect their Mayor and members of the London Assembly. As we await the results, it is a good moment to pause and consider what should be at the top of the Mayor’s agenda from day one of their new term of office. From our perspective at London’s Child Poverty Network we are crystal clear that tackling the high levels of child poverty that continue to mar our city must be up there.  

The first crucial step towards bringing about a child poverty free London must be to work with those children, families and those organisations who support them in their communities to develop a strategic response to tackling the problem over the next four years. As a network we have been very supportive of Sadiq Khan’s move to guarantee free school meals for all primary school children in the city, which demonstrates that he gets the severity of the situation and the need to take bold action to address it – but we know that on its own, it is not enough. Now is the time to bring everyone to the table to decide what other actions need to be prioritised to address the systemic causes of poverty. And we are not the only ones saying so, just before the election period began back in March a cross-party group of London Assembly Members supported our call and published a report recommending that ‘[t]he Mayor, working in conjunction with local authorities and the voluntary sector, should publish a child poverty strategy for London in 2024-25.’ 

So, what are the key policies the strategy ought to contain?  Well, it is a fact that many of the levers for reducing child poverty lie beyond the direct powers of the Mayor of London; our broken social security system for example, which exacerbates rather than ameliorates child poverty rates by setting benefit payments at levels which are not sufficient to provide families with essentials; discriminates against larger families through the two-child limit; and imposes sanctions that push families into debt rather providing them with the scaffolding they need to escape poverty. These are not policies the Mayor can directly change, although they can add their strong voice to the chorus of cries for reform.  

Where the Mayor can take direct action though, they must. Child poverty in London is driven in large measure by the exorbitantly high costs of living in the city, housing first among them. Without access to decent housing, 84,940 children in our city are living in temporary accommodation, often deprived of basics such as access to a hot nutritious meal, a warm comfortable bed and space to play and learn. Whoever emerges victorious from the election count will already be well aware that sorting the housing crisis is going to be one of the biggest challenges they face and indeed all the main candidates have pledged to do so, in various ways, during their election campaigns.  What we are calling for now is for these efforts to also be a central plank of a new child poverty strategy for the city. By looking afresh as the problem through this lens we can ensure that the housing that is built truly meets the needs of young families living on low incomes and enables them to live in and contribute to our city, as part of our communities rather displaced to other more affordable parts of the country.  

Addressing high childcare costs must be part of a London child poverty strategy too. In our recent report Make Childcare Make Sense we looked at how sky-high childcare fees disproportionately affect families living on low incomes making it next to impossible for them to stay and/or progress in work and how an inclusive, affordable childcare system could vastly improve their and the children’s lives and allow them to contribute to London’s economic well-being. Getting the national childcare and early education policy framework right is essential to achieving this goal but so too is leadership and intervention at the London-wide level and our report sets out a series of recommendations for the Mayor and GLA.  

Faced with these high housing and childcare costs, another reason many families in London struggle to make ends meet is a lack of high-quality, well-paid work; in London, almost half of those in poverty are in employment and in 2022, 17% of Londoners in work were paid below the London Living Wage (Trust for London). Many of these also face the issue of insecure work. Recent research from the Living Wage Foundation has found that there are over 800,000 insecure jobs in London. Addressing these twin issues of low pay and insecure work must be another strand of a child poverty strategy.  

Finally, is also crucial that a strategy recognises the interaction between poverty and discrimination and has addressing it at its core. We cannot for example, ignore the fact that systemic racism and disablism in the education system often combined with the impact of poverty, is responsible for holding back some of our young people and preventing them from flourishing in the way they should. A child poverty strategy rooted in a human rights-based approach is key to achieving deep and lasting change.  

So, once they have had a chance to catch their breath, we hope our newly elected Mayor will engage with us as a network, draw on our members’ rich and diverse experience and work with us to map out and deliver a plan for achieving a child poverty free London; an achievable goal if we all harness our collective determination and belief to make it happen.  

 

 


Voter ID and Shout Out UK

A few months ago there was a change in how elections are run in this country, when the Elections Act 2022 came into force

The Act bought in a wide range of changes that will have an impact in London including removing second preference voting in Mayoral contests, but arguably the biggest change was the introduction of compulsory voter ID.

This was trialled in the local elections in May this year to mixed success. The Electoral Commission’s full report is not due out till September but their initial findings have been so troubling that they have released an interim report.  This can be found here. The biggest takeaway for me from this was that 14,000 people were not able to vote as a direct result of these changes.

The most significant reason for this does seems to have been lack of awareness of the new rules – only 84% of people knew about the new requirements according to the interim report. I would here quote a family member who when reminded of the need to bring ID said ‘well I never have to in the past’.

Another issue which is of particular concern for us in 4in10 however is unequal access to the right forms of ID. The House of Commons Library produced a report in which they said:

‘The proportion of respondents to the Electoral Commission’s Public Opinion Tracker 2022 who did not have a suitable form of ID for voting was higher among more disadvantaged groups. 14% of unemployed people, 10-17% of those living in rented local authority or housing association accommodation and 7% of people with lower levels of education did not have a suitable form of ID.’

Indeed the interim report found that two of the groups were awareness was lowest was among younger age groups (18 to 24-year-olds) and Black and minority ethnic communities which were both at 82%.

 

Valid forms of ID

The other issue that continues to be of concern is the types of valid ID. The list of ID that is accepted can be found here.

If you have a look at this list, one thing that becomes immediately clear is that the majority, if not all, of the options available cost money to obtain – a passport for example costs a minimum of £90 once you take into account the cost of the photo.

Some would then counter with the fact that in theory you can obtain a ‘free’ form of ID from your council but even this isn’t completely free as you are expected to bring a passport style photograph with you.

For some families that are already having to choose between heating and eating, paying for a photo to be produced and then spending time finding and filling in a complicated form simply can’t be a priority.

This can be shown in that awareness and take-up of the Voter Authority Certificate (a free voter ID document you can apply for) was low with only 89,500 certificates being issued around the whole Country according to the Electoral Commission’s interim report.

 

The London Context

London already has one of the lowest voter registration rates in the UK and these changes has the potential to make this situation considerably worse.

There are many reasons for this but one of the biggest is the high proportion of ethnic minority communities in London. Voter registration tends to be lower in ethnic minority communities. This is the case for many reasons, including in particular insecure, short term housing but no matter what the cause the result remains the same.

We at 4in10 are concerned that unless more is done to raise awareness of the new rules and to make it easier and cheaper to obtain the necessary ID, then Londoners who are already at most at risk of being disenfranchised will be denied the right to vote.

That is why over the last few months we have been supporting Shout Out UK who have been leading the public awareness campaign on this issue and we will continue to do so.

We are asking our membership to help us and Shout Out UK by spreading the word about it and where possible help people to get the ID that they need. Find out how here.


Child Poverty in London: a societal problem calls for community-led solutions (Part 3)

Our Research and Learning Officer, Emily, discusses three questions on the issue of child poverty in London. This piece is split across three blog posts:  

 

How do we end child poverty?

This is a big task. Let’s say tomorrow the government printed money and gave it to every family under the relative poverty line and promised to keep sending them money to ensure they never fall below that line, would child poverty end? If that question were posed to different politicians and members of the public, I’m sure several revealing answers would emerge. The reality is that things are much more complicated than just money. But as a start, money really does help. The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit that was temporarily put in place during the pandemic pulled 400,000 children out of poverty. Other estimates claim that making this permanent would lift 500,000 children out of poverty. So money must be part of our child poverty strategy. So too would other public systems. Having an adequately sustained NHS and mental health services would keep children and their parents well, which cuts costs, both in terms of health itself and the knock-on effects of poor health.  

Flexible working could also be seen as a support structure to allow adults, particularly women, to work consistently and progress in their careers while also caring for their children. And there’s also the housing issue. In London housing is incredibly expensive and too many affordable options are unsuitable. Guaranteeing affordable homes for everyone can be seen as part of a child poverty strategy.  

So it’s about money, but it’s also about a community-based strategy. We need to eradicate the shame. There is no reason to judge people. Ending shame is not ending personal responsibility. Ending child poverty requires us to work together. It means believing the evidence that shows the causes of inequality and poverty are multiple and intersecting. It also means, perhaps, as a community taking on the shame that we don’t yet know how to support each other well enough. Privilege and discrimination has blinded many of us to our own personal responsibility. We can do better at that, but we need to be honest about our role and how we can learn to support each other more holistically and with respect.  

4in10, London’s Child Poverty Network is committed to supporting collaborative working. We are a network of organisations who want to see an end to child poverty in London. There is so much brilliance bottled up in the children of this city. When we invest in them and make sure each of them has an opportunity to thrive, then we will begin to see transformations that we will all benefit from.  

London’s Child Poverty Alliance, the policy sub-group of London’s Child Poverty Network has identified four key areas that can be catalysts for change. In our Manifesto, we outline current areas of inequality and systemic failure that are points of potential transformation that could ultimately bring an end to child poverty in London. Secure, adequate income will give families the resource to access what they need. All across London, our homes are fundamental to our health and wellbeing. When our homes are of decent quality, the comfort and security they provide enrich our lives and support our mental and physical health. Every child deserves the best start in life, ending child poverty means ensuring every child has access to the early education and childcare to thrive. Lastly, having access to nutritious and reliable food sources so that all children are free from hunger can target one of the essential threats of child poverty. Together, we can make child poverty a way things used to be rather than how we live now if we target these four areas as crucial pinch points of poverty to make London a fairer city for every child.  


Child Poverty in London: a societal problem calls for community-led solutions (Part 2)

Our Research and Learning Officer, Emily, discusses three questions on the issue of child poverty in London. This piece is split across three blog posts:  

What’s the state of child poverty in London?  

Unfortunately, the number of children in poverty across London is extremely high.  The latest figures from 2021/22 show that London has a child poverty rate of 32.9% according to End Child Poverty Coalition. We expect this to increase when the current year’s figures are released. Experiencing poverty can mean children are only able to afford cheap, unhealthy food. It might mean they skip washing their clothes, bathing and brushing their teeth. It can result in anxiety and isolation, aggressive or regressive behaviour. Being trapped in poverty can lead to a stressful environment at home, where children feel like they need to take on adult responsibilities to help out. While all these things can be true for any child of any household income, the likelihood of overlapping challenges or examples of ‘going without’ can be much greater when a child is in poverty. Parents can be doing the best they can with what they’ve got, but they can’t absorb all of the trauma that impacts them and their families.  

How do we respond to child poverty? 

The government prioritises helping families get into work. This can be one valuable, effective way to help families in poverty. However, it’s important that context is considered. For one, balancing children’s needs with a work schedule is very difficult. So, for single-parent families flexible, adequate work is crucial. In addition, some parents can’t work because either they or their child is disabled and therefore more support is needed that looks different than paid work. Also, illness needs to be considered as some adults can’t work because they are dealing with an acute illness. Therefore, as a society, we have to think about helping families get support and money in their pockets and community connections that look beyond the paid work route out of poverty.  

At 4in10, we talk about supporting organisations who work to end poverty or mitigate its impact. To end child poverty would be to ensure that families have the income they need to cover the essentials. This can look like a robust social security which puts money back into the pockets of families, it can also look like higher pay which increases the incoming funds on a regular basis and it can also take the form of organisational tax breaks or social investment in services so that more support is freely available which reduces the need to ‘buy in’ to participate in local communal activities and opportunities. 

In terms of mitigation of the effects of child poverty, again, some specific considerations help draw out this point. Children know when they don’t have as much as others. Children are experts in observation, they learn from seeing and doing and so they know when things are different. When it comes to household finances, they may not know the details or understand the specific issues, but children are capable of knowing when they have less or shouldn’t ask for more. As part of communities all across London, we can help nurture belonging and fairness by making it easy to share resources, reduce additional expenses at school and offer out-of–school activities that are free of charge and sustainably developed and delivered. By making it less about what you can buy and more about where we can belong, the organisations such as youth clubs, art groups, theatres, community organisations, schools and many other community-led programmes help children access support and meaningful relationships with those local to them. This can create a buffer between children and the impact of poverty on their wellbeing. These kinds of services will always be important, even if child poverty disappeared from London. Their existence helps offer important outreach to children and their families. It’s important that these organisations can focus on what they do best, but the current system demands them to follow the money in terms of endless cycles of grant submissions, reporting and project adaptation to keep the budgets balanced. This makes losers out of all of us. Funding can and should be sustainable.  

There are steps that all of us can take in our organisations and as individuals to help advocate and implement change. In our Manifesto for a child poverty free London, we outline four key areas that would help reduce child poverty across London. Income, housing, childcare and hunger. These four areas impact us all and in different ways, individuals, businesses, local, regional and national government can help contribute to make the situation better for children. This is not about attributing blame on any one group, but about community-centred and multi-faceted responses to helping improve the lives of children and challenging inequalities when and where we see them.  


Child Poverty in London: a societal problem calls for community-led solutions (Part 1)

Our Research and Learning Officer, Emily, discusses three questions on the issue of child poverty in London. This piece is split across three blog posts:  

What is child poverty?

The very fact that children experience poverty across London reflects the failings of British society to support its youngest members. Children are experiencing poverty because their guardians don’t have enough resource to meet their basic needs. Despite their care givers’ best efforts to protect them, children in poverty can experience the stress and insecurity that stems from not having enough to meet essential needs and some children even take on the practical or emotional responsibility to help alleviate some of the worries of the adults in their household.  Children don’t choose poverty. And they can’t choose to end it. They rely on adults in their community, both local and national to make the changes necessary to ensure they, as children, get what they need.  

Relative poverty is defined as a household income that is 60% below the median income. While children are in poverty across the country, they may not experience it in the same way. In London, housing costs and childcare costs mean that children in London are more likely to live in unsuitable accommodation and fewer access early years education whereas in other parts of the country, the challenges may be high travel costs or their adult carers experiencing difficulty finding work.  

What causes it?  

The simple reason for what causes poverty is that household income isn’t enough and is far below the average of many other households. The much more complicated answer is that inadequate income can be the result of an inability to work, poor health, disability, discrimination or unexpected change of circumstances or a combination of challenges that lead to income insecurity. Where it gets really complicated is that accessing adequate income is not a case of simply trying to secure more work because often suitable, paid work is not accessible, for example because of prohibitive childcare costs. This is where narratives around personal responsibility and shame can take root and spring life to inaccurate descriptions as to why some people have enough and others don’t.  

Child poverty is caused by both indirect and direct policy decisions related to children. For example, financial budget reductions for schools, youth services and community organisations mean that children are cut off from the services meant to serve them specifically and in turn it’s only those who can afford to pay for those same services that get the high quality opportunities that help shape children’s present experiences to lead to privileged future opportunities. In addition, policies that impact wages, housing and service provision across the country mean that adults can’t access the jobs and support they need, which has a knock-on effect for children. In combination, these circumstances exacerbate inequality making a greater divide between those who can afford to pay extra and those who can’t afford the essentials.  

What makes child poverty different? 

One of the worst parts of child poverty is that it hurts people at a crucial time in their lives when poverty is integrated into their physiological systems. When their bodies and minds are developing rapidly, and their emotional regulation is dynamically maturing, the trauma that poverty inflicts has a lasting impact. While adults might feel the burden of responsibility, they also have more political influence as voters. Children do not. They can’t work, they can’t vote and they can’t always access the people with power and influence to change. So, they are made to wait and struggle.  


4in10 Member Conducts Research on Low-Income Families and SEND Support

Over the past several months, 4in10 has been working with one of our members, Education and Skills Development Group (ESDEG) to support them in creating an excellent report that outlines the importance of their work with low-income ethnic minority families with children who are eligible for SEND support. With a financial contribution from 4in10, Suchismita Majumdar, ESDEG’s Communications & Policy Officer conducted comprehensive interviews and analysis with the ESDEG team to get a sense of the particular needs and challenges children who require SEND support face when they and their parents seek access to additional support.  

The report takes an impressive introspective look at the programmes ESDEG offers and the support they give to children and their parents in response to the particular needs of specific ethnic groups, in particular, Somali, Pakistani, Afghan, Indian and Black Caribbean communities. 

Their report, available here, shines a light on the situation both for non-white families across London who encounter barriers because of cultural and economic stigma as well as the more widespread scarcity of SEND programmes and professionals in the state school system across London.  

The report also includes some key evaluations that ESDEG has identified to help guide them as they plan and implement future programmes, policies and campaigns going forward.  

 

 


How Poverty Feels

In 2021, 4in10 in partnership with the Greater London Authority commissioned ClearView Research to speak with Londoners to understand what poverty felt like since the Covid-19 pandemic had hit. What Londoners said helps paint a picture of the challenges that so many people face.  

All of us across the city have ambitions and there is plenty of opportunity to go around, but it’s been ring-fenced for a small group of people leaving many with too little left. The report showed that with an inadequate social security system, many families found the challenge of gaining secure employment, suitable housing, affordable childcare and everyday costs out of reach. Despite having big dreams, many felt that they were fighting forces beyond their control, an experience compared to flying against gravity.  

In 2023, with numerous strikes occurring on a regular basis, it’s clear that workers in many sectors feel they are at breaking point highlighting that the foundations are in need of repair. Basic transportation, health and teaching services are woefully underfunded and lacking investment for innovation and expansion. It’s worth revisiting this report to understand what families are facing today.  

Families can’t strike, they have to keep up the fight despite recent data showing that low-income Londoners have faced 21% inflation over the last three years. Families are choosing between heating and eating and the prospect of focusing on career progression when your flat is mouldy and transportation is unaffordable and childcare is inaccessible is an impossible challenge.  

What Londoners asked for in the report was for government to make the basics affordable. If childcare, cost of living bills and transportation were affordable then the possibility of families accessing better employment and housing that would enable them to thrive could come to fruition. This is what a good social security system does, it ensures we all have what we need through a social investment for us all. We need policies shaped by all of us to ensure no one gets shut out of decisions that affect them.  

Revisiting this report from 2021 is worthwhile because its key findings still hold their weight. That is that poverty is something most of us are concerned about and 85% of us believe that politicians should do more about it.  

With local elections just around the corner and London mayoral elections and a General Election on the horizon, it’s worthwhile thinking about making sure politicians hear from you that ending poverty warrants strategic policies. It must be a priority if communities are to thrive, and industries continue to expand providing income sources for Londoners. Flying Against Gravity shows the experiences of Londoners in first-hand accounts that remind us of the emotional toll that is unacceptable.  

Together we can do more by demanding lasting change to ensure we all have what we need to soar.   


London mothers tell the United Nations temporary accommodation violates children’s rights.

4in10 and Little Village have collaborated to write a submission for the examination of the United Kingdom’s 7th periodic report to the United Nation Committee on Economic and Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). The CESCR committee is currently reviewing the UK Government’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Little Village is a charity that fosters a village of support and solidarity for families on low incomes with children under five in London. Little Village equips families with pre-loved children’s clothes and baby essentials as well as linking them with key services. They also work alongside parents to fix the system that keeps them trapped in poverty.

The research for this report was informed by a human rights-based approach, 4in10 worked  in partnership with a small group of mothers who are part of the Little Village community. In this process, the contribution made by the mothers seeks to bring to the attention of the CESCR their experiences of struggling to access safe and affordable housing, a lack of access to basic necessities and difficulties accessing childcare and therefore being able to work. Therefore, this report contains evidence that the rights under Article 11 ICESCR – the right to an adequate standard of living, and Article 6 ICESCR – the right to work are not enjoyed equally in London. The UK government has failed to protect the rights of families with young children under 5 years of age living in London.  It’s time to hold the UK Government to account and more than that, it’s time for change.

A few excerpts from the report are illustrated below. To read the report in full click here.

Key findings

Experiences of inappropriate and unsafe housing

The mothers shared their experience of a lack of access to safe, secure housing for themselves and their children as one of the most acute issues they face and an issue that they wished the report to draw the Committee’s attention to. Several of the women were or had previously been placed by their local authority in temporary accommodation. London has an acute homelessness problem, with 10 times more London households in temporary accommodation than in the rest of England[1]. In 2021 nearly 56,500 households were living in temporary accommodation, including 75, 580 children. Furthermore, research on the crisis of family homelessness in the UK shows that temporary accommodation is harmful to families. For example, research commissioned by The Cardinal Hume Centre and Home-Start Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham and published last week into the experience of families living in temporary accommodation in Westminster found that temporary accommodation is more than just a housing problem, the impact spans many areas including health, education, child development and a family’s financial situation.[2]

Similarly, the mothers had found the housing their families where places in to be inadequate for their needs and damaging to their mental and physical health as well as that of their children. One mother shared:

“When I had a studio flat with my son, it was so damp. Every time I called they just say you have to wash it [the walls]…but it would keep coming back. My son has an inhaler because of living in mould.”

Inadequate housing can have a detrimental impact on a child’s mental health. A mother shared that their children were showing signs of depression due to overcrowding:

‘Children are depressed because of sharing bedrooms. So, they may act out at school because their needs are not being met at home.’

 While temporary accommodation is intended to house homeless families only for short periods of time, this was not the case for the women and other families across the UK.  A combination of cuts to local government funding, an inadequate welfare system and a lack of permanent social or affordable housing has driven this increase. Consequently, children in London are growing up in substandard and unsafe temporary accommodation and the effect this is having on children’s rights cannot be understated. If the government is committed to its pledge to the international covenant, then giving families a safe, secure and decent home to live in must be the foundation of this.

 Lack of access to childcare as a barrier to work

Another issue that the women highlighted as a priority for the Committee to examine was the barriers that prevent them from exercising their right to work.

When families are housed, especially in temporary accommodation, this is often far away from existing connections including employers and wider families and other sources of support. One mother told us how she was moved from south to north London, which meant, she would have to travel up to 2 hours each way to drop off her child with a family member who could provide childcare while she worked. The high costs of travel and subsequent lost work-time mean that this is not financially viable. Unable to make work pay this mother must rely on a small maternity payment: “I receive £626 a month and that is it. I have to buy nappies, electric every week… the money goes like that.”

Additionally, the women expressed their desire to work to increase their incomes to support their children, but this was impossible given the lack of affordable and accessible childcare available to them.  Another woman, reflecting on the very high costs of childcare, asked “How can I work with 3 kids?’ Childcare in the UK is amongst the most expensive in the world according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In London, the cost of childcare is 30% higher than elsewhere is the country. [3] The consequence of the failure of the government to uprate the childcare element of Universal credit  and the universal credit system not being set up to pay childcare fees in advance means parents are unable to make work pay and are being blocked from the workforce. Hence, polling commissioned by 4in10 in 2021 among a representative sample of Londoners found that childcare costs were felt to be the biggest driver of poverty in the city[4]. While childcare is the infrastructure that allows parents, particularly mothers, to enter or re-enter the workforce, we also know that early years is crucial to for enhancing life chances for children living in poverty.

These experiences shared by the group of mothers are shocking to read and sadly have been a reality of many low income families living in Londoners for too long. The report concludes that despite the UK Government’s assertion in its 7th periodic report to the Committee on Economic, social and Cultural Rights that it is “committed to a sustainable, long-term approach to tackling poverty”, the evidence in the report shows the UK Government is in fact failing to protect young children and their families in London from the damaging effects of poverty and is breaching their rights under ICESCR, specifically Article 11 (1) The right to an adequate standard of living and Article 6 the right to work.  We urge the United Nations to listen to the voices of the women who share their experiences and call on the UK government to uphold their commitment to protect and implement these rights.

[1] Centre for London (Sept 2022) Temporary Accommodation: London’s hidden homelessness crisis

[2] The Cardinal Hume Centre and Home-Start Westminster, Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham (Feb 2023) The Experiences of Families Living in Temporary accommodation in Westminster.

[3] Child Poverty Action Group (June 2021) ‘THE COST OF A CHILD IN LONDON: HELP WITH CHILDCARE FEES ‘WOEFULLY INADEQUATE’

[4] 4in10 London’s Child Poverty Network (October 2021) Flying Against Gravity: the lived reality of poverty in London


Children with special educational needs and disabled children

4in10 organised a coffee morning in February 2023 that was jointly hosted by staff and parents at Marjory Kinnon School in Hounslow. Rochelle McIntyre, the Family Support and Community Outreach Worker facilitated the discussion and had invited her colleague Jo Stacey, Assistant Head Teacher, Key Stage 2 and Staff Governor as well as a parent to provide first-hand experience.  

This mother shared her experiences as a single-parent and the challenges of caring for a child with autism. Throughout the group discussion, a few key costs were mentioned that demonstrate the challenge of parenting and educating children with a learning disability. These include:  

  • Changing dietary needs and specific food items being essential to meet the sensory needs of the child, these foods are often more expensive or difficult to predict and buy reduced  
  • Clothing and textures becoming uncomfortable leading to new purchases frequently 
  • High costs to attend a sensory appropriate gym, averaging £17.50 per visit which swallows up a high proportion of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) that her son is entitled to 
  • Taxis across London for appointments as the underground is too overstimulating 
  • This parent shared that her son often strips off his clothes at home meaning its particularly important to keep the house warm enough, thus adding to the cost of utilities.  

The emotional side for parents was also highlighted. A parent in attendance explained that working part time and taking coursework all had to stop because it just became too overwhelming for her and exhausting to keep up. Even when she was able to access a personal assistant, there were still costs associated with the PA taking care of her son or taking him out and about that limited how much her son could do with her PA. Thus, it felt like there were always limitations and challenges as to how much help she could get because the costs keep adding up.  

Another parent of a child with autism shared her own experiences and emphasised that practical help is important, but the challenge of supporting and adjusting to the sensory needs of a growing child with autism is always there.  

At 4in10, we want to listen to these experiences and share them with those who make decisions that impact children and their parents. We want to highlight the financial and emotional challenges that parents face and the impossible situations that parents with low-incomes encounter when caring for a child with a special need or disability. If you have other thoughts or experiences that you’d like to share, please do get in touch so we can support growing more awareness and social action to advocate for better support of children with varying needs and financial situations.  


Research about young people designed by young people for young people

Reflections from Research and Learning Officer, Emily Barker, on an exciting new venture organised by one of our members and taking place across London.

Young Londoners Research Project  

For those interested in youth-led research, I’ve got something to share! I came across a brilliant series of projects that our member, Partnership for Young London, is coordinating along with Rocket Science and Young Harrow Foundation. A total of nine research projects are taking place thanks to these partners working with the Greater London Authority who has commissioned ‘a new programme that will fund and support young people, their youth or support workers and their youth organisations to research young people’s views.’  

Follow this link to learn more about the Young Researchers Programme and for a description of the nine exciting projects underway. The variety of projects speaks to the scope of creativity and talent of these young people. It’s a thrill to hear how passionate as well as thorough and insightful these young people are about putting in the work to develop new knowledge that will help improve the experiences of young Londoners. 

When young people are involved in evaluating and improving the services aimed at them, it can help increase the reach and impact of these services on those who need it most. Many of the projects consider what barriers exist for young people who need to access additional support. Making steps to improve young people’s lives is a key strategy in mitigating the impact , both immediate and long term, of child poverty.

I am especially looking forward to hearing about the findings of the research projects in spring 2023! I can’t wait to learn from their analysis!