Intended for healthcare professionals


Child health at risk from welfare cuts

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 14 October 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5330
  1. David Taylor-Robinson, senior clinical lecturer in public health1,
  2. Sophie Wickham, research fellow in public health data analysis1,
  3. Ben Barr, senior clinical lecturer in applied public health2
  1. 1Department of Public Health and Policy, Farr Institute@HeRC, Liverpool L69 3GL, UK
  2. 2Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool, Liverpool
  1. Correspondence to: D Taylor-Robinson dctr{at}

Poverty has an enduring influence on children’s development, health outcomes, and survival

In his keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference the prime minister suggested that “an all out assault on poverty” was key to tackling the United Kingdom’s big social problems.1 Central to the government’s plans are the welfare changes heralded in the summer budget, which outlined the chancellor’s intention to take the UK from a “low wage, high tax, high welfare economy” to a “higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare country.”2 The overall picture is complicated since, although substantial cuts to tax credits and benefits are set to reduce the income of some households substantially, a “national living wage” is to be introduced that will benefit people in low paid work. But who are the winners and losers from this, and what are the public health implications?

Two recent reports from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Resolution Foundation show that it is poor children who are going to be hit hardest.3 4 The Rowntree analysis shows how the combined effect of benefit changes and the national living wage will influence household incomes compared with a “minimum income standard”—the amount required for a basic standard of living.

Lone parents and families with children who depend on welfare …

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