Unicef report finds that one in three British children are in ‘multi-dimensional poverty’ and says gaps between rich and poor are widening around the world.
The UK has some of the highest levels of hunger and deprivation among the world’s richest nations, according to a wide-ranging United Nations assessment of child health and wellbeing.
The Unicef report ranks 41 high-income countries against 25 indicators tracking progress against internationally agreed goals to end child poverty and hunger, promote health, ensure quality education, and reduce inequality.
It concludes that the majority of rich countries are going backwards on inequality indicators as gaps between rich and poor widen, with many performing poorly in key areas of child health, notably as a consequence of rising obesity rates.
“Income inequality is growing, adolescents’ mental health is worsening, and child obesity is growing,” the report states.
Nearly one in five UK children under the age of 15 suffers from food insecurity – meaning their family lacks secure access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food – putting it above the rich country average of 13%.
One in three UK children are in what Unicef calls “multi-dimensional poverty” – which measures deprivation in a number of areas linked to children’s rights including housing, clothing, nutrition and access to social and leisure activities.
Sarah Cook, the director of Unicef Innocenti, which carried out the assessment, said the report was a “wake-up call” to governments that even in high-income countries progress does not benefit all children.