Rushanara Ali MP grilled the Government on its failure to address rising levels of child poverty, warning that its inaction threatened the potential of a whole generation of young people.
Speaking in the House of Commons in her capacity as Shadow Education Minister, Rushanara underlined the importance of fairness and social mobility to her political vision.
Referring to her family’s encouragement and her own upbringing in Tower Hamlets, Rushanara said:
“’The world is your oyster if you work hard,’ was the message I received not only from my mother and the rest of my family, but also from my teachers. These influences had a profound effect on what I went on to do, and on the opportunities I got through a great education in Tower Hamlets. In the same way, we now all have a duty and a responsibility to make sure that the next generation does better than the current one.”
Reacting to recent reports from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission which found that 2.6 million young people across the UK are now living in poverty, Rushanara said:
“Almost one in five young people now face profound threats to their childhoods, aspirations and life chances. In my constituency, 42% of children are living in poverty. On this Government’s watch, there is little room for hope. Save the Children, the End Child Poverty campaign and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have warned that the Government will miss their own 2020 child poverty target by a staggering margin. That cannot be acceptable.”
Speaking after the debate, Rushanara said:
“Social mobility is central to the Labour Party’s vision for Britain in the twenty-first century. This must start with securing fairness in our country and instilling hope in all young people, regardless of their background. Labour will tackle child poverty by linking the minimum wage to average earnings and reviewing Universal Credit proposals which currently penalise second earners in households from joining the workforce. We will also provide a youth jobs guarantee for unemployed young people.
“Alongside our focus on the ‘Forgotten 50%’ of young people who don’t go to university, we are committed to giving all young people the opportunity to gain meaningful work and the skills they need to avoid long-term unemployment, despair and hopelessness. It is imperative that we nurture the ambition, optimism and aspirations of all the next generation.”