For the sake of our kids

Shocking level of child poverty revealed in Swansea

In 2010, a report commissioned by Swansea council's Children and Young People's Overview and scrutiny board, estimated that 6,500 children live in poverty in the city.

Wide ranging problems are connected to this statistic. Babies born to under privileged families can be underweight, and low birth weight is closely associated with infant death and chronic diseases later in life. At the age of two, a child from a poor family is more likely to show a lower level of attainment that a child from a more affluent background. As the child develops, there are fewer opportunities available through lack of education and life experience. This can result in a lack of confidence and self worth, and can impact on mental health.

Child obesity is high in deprived areas, where parents do not have the necessary skills or adequate funds to provide essential nutrition. Children in poverty are more likely to leave school at sixteen. With poor numeracy and literary skills finding long term employment is often an uphill struggle. These problems can culminate in substance abuse and criminal activities. The South Wales Evening Post has labelled this as "a cocktail of drugs, booze, obesity and ill health".

A centre for cities report (Cities outlook 2010), identified Swansea as one of the most vulnerable cities in the UK, in terms of the affect deficit reduction measures will have on the public sector. Simply put, as a city Swansea will be harder hit by cuts to the public sector than most. Nearly 40% of the workforce is employed in the public sector, and the biggest employers include the Council, the NHS, and government agencies such as the DVLA. Redundancies and cuts in public services fall disproportionately on the poorest areas.

The current Liberal democrat led council intends to carry through government cuts and can offer no solutions to underlying social problems. Should labour defeat the ruling Lib-Dems, Tories and Independent coalition next May, then they too will be powerless to address these issues because they will also carry through the Tory cuts. The best thing we can do for our children is to build towards united trade union action to defeat the cuts, and to prepare to stand anti cuts candidates in next year's council elections, pledged to refuse to implement Tory cut backs.

Sharif Bahgat (Swansea Socialist Party)

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