UK youth wellbeing among lowest in Europe

Tuesday 21st April, 2009

A table ranking the wellbeing of young people puts the UK in 24th place among 29 European states with the Netherlands coming out top.

Only Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta ranked lower than the UK in a table compiled by York University on behalf of the Child Poverty Action Group.

Assessing countries on measures such as infant mortality, obesity, poverty and housing, the table studied data from 2006 for young people under the age of 19.

As well as asking children how they felt about life, education and relationships, categories covered in the study also included: health, subjective wellbeing, behaviour and risk, and housing/environment. For example, pressure from school work was classified under “subjective wellbeing”

A similar report by Unicef two years ago suggests little improvement has been made despite the Government stating they have lifted more than a million children out of poverty.

The Child Poverty Action Group said the ranking was well below what it should be given the country’s affluence. Britain performed best in the child relationship category placing 15th.

The report stated that the UK’s position has been influenced by the number of children in families where no parent is working. Their recommendations include:

– Job protection and removing barriers to work (such as expensive childcare)
– Strengthen the safety net for families living below the poverty line
– Remove means testing for benefits
– End low wage poverty for those working but on minimum income
– Stop the classroom divide whereby children in poverty have lower attainment
– Fair public services for those in need
– Stop poverty premiums where the poorest families pay more of their income in tax and on basic goods and services
– Decent housing for every family

Children’s minister Beverley Hughes said the government created the children’s department to focus on schools and families and plan to put those at the heart of everything government does.

This latest report comes after a recent survey of 1,000 children in the UK found kids were worried about knife crime, bullying and finances but otherwise happy.



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