Save the Children | Response to budget memorandum: five recommendations to reduce child poverty

Save the Children believes that more money for ‘poor’ parents is not enough to reduce child poverty. The government must take more far-reaching measures.

Child poverty is in the news almost every day. Rising inflation, rising energy prices and the associated falling purchasing power hit children the hardest.

In the Netherlands, 1 in 12 children will grow up in poverty this year. That’s around 300,000 children. After several years of slight decline, the number of children growing up in poverty is now increasing for the first time. In August, the Central Planning Bureau calculated that the percentage of children growing up below the poverty line will rise to at least 9.5% by 2023. Growing up in poverty limits children’s development opportunities. It has a negative effect on physical and mental health. Due to rising contribution costs, children stop participating in sports, music or participating in associations. It is more common for children to go to school without food.

Not all children in poverty benefit of measures
In the budget memorandum, the government announces measures to reverse poverty in the Netherlands. An energy ceiling, raising the minimum wage and tackling and preventing homelessness. The measures announced will probably help 100,000 children. But by no means will all children benefit from these measures. Some require adaptation. For example, because of their residence status, have a disability or grew up in an insecure family situation. We ask the government not to lose sight of this group of children. Child poverty is more than just creating income security for the parents. Therefore, we have a number of recommendations:

Article 26
The Netherlands still has a reservation to Art. 26 from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This makes it impossible for children to make an independent appeal to social security in national courts. Minors are included in the family allowance. Recent research has identified eight groups of children who, for various reasons, are unable to claim their right to social benefits, including children in homeless families or children with difficult relationships with their parents, or children whose parents are not eligible for social benefits services. Make social services directly accessible in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

National Child Guarantee Scheme
The National Child Guarantee Plan aims to break through intergenerational poverty and promote social inclusion. The current plan lacks recommendation 5, which identifies extra vulnerable target groups, including (1) homeless children (2) children with a disability (3) children with mental health problems (4) children with an immigrant background or ethnic minority; such as Roma (5) children in (closed) care institutions (6) children in precarious family situations. In addition, there is a lack of a gender perspective, and the plan does not specify any figures or targets. Ensure that the National Child Guarantee Plan serves all children in the Netherlands and provides tailored solutions.

school food
A free healthy (hot) lunch at school every day, this is very common in many countries. Children learn healthy eating habits, which have a positive effect on physical and mental health later in life. In this way, children in precarious life situations get at least one healthy meal a day and no longer go to class with an empty stomach.

Free childcare
From 1 January 2025, the government will pay 95% of childcare costs for working parents. The personal contribution will then be 5% regardless of the parents’ income. This makes childcare much cheaper for many parents. But parents who are poor will actually pay 1% more of their own contribution. Give these parents free childcare.

Participation of children and young people
A good policy for child poverty is not possible without children and young people being able to participate in discussions and decisions about this. They know best what they encounter and where they need support. Participation is a fundamental right enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In addition, it also contributes to the personal, social, emotional and moral development of children and young people and increases the connection between young people and government.

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