A UNICEF report on child welfare in twenty industrialised nations paints a depressing picture of the welfare of British children:

"Not only do they drink the most, smoke more and have more sex than their
peers, they rate their health as the poorest, dislike school more and are
among the least satisfied with life. Their relative poverty, the lack of
time spent eating meals with their parents and mistrust of classmates mean
that Britain languishes at the bottom of the wellbeing league table."

One of the authors, Professor Jonathan Bradshaw, basically puts the blame on the last Conservative government:

“Between 1979 and 1999, children were relatively neglected in Britain, child
poverty rates rose rapidly, those living in workless households soared and
the numbers not in education or training also rose.”

Debating the problems associated with child poverty often comes down to "the chicken or the egg", but I think Professor Bradshaw is being overly simplistic in deciding that relative poverty is the sole "chicken". Britain having the highest rate of single parenthood is a major factor, it also has the lowest number of children that said fellow children were "kind and helpful", is this merely because of material welath, or the lack of? If I can quote Iain Duncan Smith:

"Many of today’s children have more material possessions than the
post-war generation could even dream of. Whilst some are still in
material need there is a deeper poverty. Times may have changed but
children’s fundamental needs have not. Children are essentially the
same at every time and in every place. Deeper than their material needs
is a hunger for identity and security. To be part of a loving home where they can become more than they could
ever be on their own. The state cannot provide such a home."

George Osborne is right to point the
finger at Gordon Brown:

"This report tells the truth about Brown’s Britain.
After ten years of his welfare and education policies, our children
have the lowest wellbeing in the developed world. The Chancellor has
failed this generation of children and will fail the next if he’s given
a chance. We need a new approach."

Brown’s policies have done little to get to the roots of these problems, Cameron’s talk about General Well-Being and the family unit promises to do more.

Deputy Editor