UNICEF report on ‘The children left behind’

In 2010, UNICEF published ‘The children left behind. A league table of inequality in child well-being in the world’s rich countries’.

The report (Report Card 9) examines inequality in material well-being, education and health across 24 developed countries, and ranks the UK in the bottom two-fifths of countries alongside Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. It shows that disadvantaged children in the UK fall further behind their peers than in countries such as France or Germany. The report clearly demonstrates that income poverty has the greatest impact on child inequality, and shows that without continued government intervention in the form of tax credits and benefits, the number of children living in poverty in the UK would be significantly higher. However, it also shows that Government efforts to date have been insufficient in both scope and scale to combat child poverty and inequality, and to decrease levels of child poverty to those we would expect in one of the world’s richest nations.

In the context of the development of a UK child poverty strategy, the findings of Report Card 9 take on a particular significance for the UK. UNICEF UK, among other things, has urged the Government to ensure that ambitious interim targets underpin the new child poverty strategy, and that a child-focused fairness test is rigorously applied to all proposed changes to the welfare, tax, education, and health systems to ensure that new policies do not increase inequality between children.

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