CRITICS of Margaret Thatcher will no doubt point to the report by Unicef on the well-being of UK children as evidence of the blighted legacy she leaves behind.
There is no question that this study – which warns that British youngsters’ prospects in life trail behind those of many of their European neighbours – should be taken seriously, especially given its scope.
Yet it could be argued that the coalition has at least tackled some of those problems which, under the last Labour government, saw the UK ranked bottom for child well-being out of 24 countries.
Furthermore, Unicef itself acknowledges that this Government did better than many others in terms of reducing child poverty and deprivation during the early years of the financial crisis, though it rightly expresses concern that present policies to reduce spending should not reverse this.
Two points need to be made. First, the increased spending seen under Labour not only failed to avert high-profile abuse cases such as those of Baby P and Victoria Climbie, but it also left Britain languishing at the foot of Unicef’s own table.
Second, the coalition has signalled its intention to get to grips with many of the issues highlighted by the organisation – such as tackling the problem of Neets through its introduction of University Technical Colleges to provide a route into work for those who are not academically minded.
Along with a welfare system that now incentivises work, these measures alone engender hope that the well-being of younger generations can only improve in the years ahead.