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2.6 million kids face Christmas on the breadline

2.6 million kids face Christmas on the breadline
Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Action for Children research has highlighted the prospect of a bleak festive season for millions of children this year.

The study found about a third of children aged 8 to 18 fear a friend or classmate won’t get any presents or celebrate Christmas this year because their family can’t afford it.

The charity’s analysis of official figures found that nearly one in five (2.6million) UK children are living in material deprivation, going without the basics like warmth, fresh food or a celebration this Christmas.

Action for Children’s frontline workers confirm pressure on struggling families is worse than last Christmas and highlight the desperate choices parents are being forced to make.

One worker reported helping a pregnant mum who ‘hadn’t eaten for three days as she was prioritising the food for her children’. Another described young children spending a weekend scared in candlelit gloom as parents had no money to top up electricity.

The research also showed that 4.2 million children live in families that can’t save at least £10 a month (29%), while 2.7 million have parents who can’t afford to replace broken essential electrical goods such as a fridge or washing machine.

Children can’t celebrate Christmas

Paul Carberry, chief executive at Action for Children, said: “The magic of Christmas begins in childhood. But for children on the breadline up and down the UK, it’s anything but magical. How do you give a child a Christmas to remember when you’re going without food so they can eat? How can they experience the joy of Christmas if it’s just another day to go to bed hungry and to wake up cold?

“We’re seeing children without a bed sleeping on the floor with just blankets, and families phoning us crying because they have no money to feed their children. We know missing out on essentials like these can scar a child’s whole life. This is why the UK government must do more for them during this brutal and ongoing cost of living crisis, as well as deliver ambitious policies to end child poverty for good.

“The chancellor talks about making work pay but our research shows almost two million children in poverty live in families where their parents face at least one significant barrier to work, such as a disability, being a carer or being a lone parent trying to balance work with looking after a young child.”

Action for Children is encouraging people to become a Secret Santa for deprived children by visiting iamsanta.org.uk and making a donation.