Save The Children already reports parents having to choose between heating their homes and feeding their kids. Some are even skipping meals to make sure that their sons and daughters are fed. It was reported this week that schools are shrinking meal portions, leaving children's stomachs emptier still. We live in the seventh richest country on earth; the average fortunes of the wealthiest 1,000 shot up by a fifth last year – and we can supposedly no longer afford to feed our children properly.
With the IFS projecting that the number of children living in poverty will reach 3.1 million by 2013, the lives of some will get lonelier. More will feel that their families cannot afford to let them invite their friends round for dinner. Other shared social activities – like going to the cinema, or going on a school trip – will become financially out of reach. Youth services – often the first to face the chop when local authorities slash budgets – face drastic cuts, leaving the street corner the only place left for many to hang out.
From birth to early adulthood, the squeeze will intensify. A cut of more than a fifth in grants to Sure Start has resulted in the closure of 124 centres, meaning more and more under-fives will miss out. And, at the other end, youth unemployment is hurtling towards 25 per cent. The Government talks of not saddling the nation's children with debt – and yet that is precisely what they are inflicting on a generation with the trebling of tuition fees. The future for many of our young will be colder, hungrier, lonelier, duller, less secure, more indebted and, overall, poorer.Disgrace.