Ahead of the Autumn Statement, we - a group of Vincentian organisations from across the UK - urge the government to put vulnerable people at the forefront of its spending plans. Together we support some of the most deprived and marginalised groups in our communities, and this year we have seen an alarming jump in the numbers of families and individuals suffering the depths of poverty and injustice. Children, low-income households, elderly citizens and people with disabilities need the government's urgent attention.
Approximately 800,000 children in England do not qualify for free school meals despite living in poverty. A high proportion of families living in poverty are from working households, yet they are still forced to rely on food banks and charity donations for the basics to live. Every day, more and more parents come to our services desperate for assistance to feed, clothe and provide a warm home for their children. We know food insecurity and poverty can cause long-term damage to children and has been associated with chronic illness, hindered physical and cognitive development, and poor mental health in adulthood. We have also seen a frightening surge of mental health concerns from both adults and young people as anxieties around the cost-of-living continue to grow. We need an adequate social security system that at least covers life's essentials.
The rate of homelessness is rising steeply in this country. The number of rough sleepers in England has increased by 18% since last year, and homeless charity Depaul UK saw a staggering 30% increase in the use of its emergency accommodation service. What's more, there are around 104,510 households, including 131,370 children[v], currently living in temporary accommodation, many of which are overcrowded and unsuitable for young families. No child or adult in the UK - no matter their ethnicity or social background - should have to live in undignified conditions.
Elderly and Disabled People
The social care sector remains in a critical state, with persistently high vacancy rates and financial pressures leaving people without the care they need to live safely and well, including vulnerable older adults and people with disabilities. A recent survey by Daughters of Charity Services revealed a vast majority of the sector agrees that increased government funding is necessary to lift vital care organisations out of dire financial circumstances.
We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet this is not a society in which many children and vulnerable citizens can live healthily, safely and thrive. Charities and communities are working overtime to provide vital services to those suffering the most, but we need national action to fix these failing systems. The government must intervene.
This Autumn budget provides an opportunity for meaningful change. We hope to see bold government moves that will protect our aging population and generations to come.
Anglican Sisters of Charity
Company of Mission Priests
Congregation of the Mission
Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul
Daughters of Charity Services
International Association of Charities (AIC)
Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Evron