Children worried about having enough to eat

16 November 2022

45% of children aged 7-11, and 26% of young people 12-18 answering a national survey said they worry about having enough to eat.

The survey by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales asked 7873 children and young people their views on a range of issues.

There were also 876 responses from parents.

Children’s concerns were echoed by parents: 36% of parents said that they worry about their children having enough food.

Almost two-thirds (61%) of children aged 7-11 worried about their families not having enough money for the things they need, as did a majority (52%) of children aged 12-18.

According to the commissioner, Rocio Cifuentes MBE, early findings from the survey are a ‘startling snapshot’ of the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on children.

And the findings come just two days after the Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education (CYPE) committee warned that the cost-of-living crisis is impacting school attendance.

The Children’s Commissioner said: “Even before this crisis we had a huge number of children living in poverty in Wales. I’ve repeatedly called on the Welsh Government for a child poverty action plan, something I’ve reiterated in my latest annual report. We desperately need to see a plan that is focused, clear, and has targets to reduce the number of children and young people facing hardship – a call supported by the Auditor General for Wales.

“It’s really striking and shocking to see the level of worry amongst children and young people for some of the most basic everyday things, like having enough to eat and enough money for the things they need. These are things that children should not be worrying about it all, and I’m deeply concerned about the potential long-term impact this could have on their wellbeing. These are very early findings from our national survey, which closed last week. It’s likely of course that when we look at the answers of particular vulnerable groups of children that the numbers will be even more worrying.

“It’s also really saddening to see the impact on parents. At least two-thirds (68%) are worried about having enough money for the things their children need, and those figures are pretty consistent across a wide range of finance-related questions in the survey.

“I’ve shared these early findings directly with the Welsh Government. There are big decisions to be made in Cardiff Bay and in Westminster on the cost-of-living crisis and what more can be done to help, and children need to be central to those decisions. The Welsh Government needs to do all it can to reduce costs for families and we need a plan to ensure resources are having the desired effect. A billion pounds was spent in the last financial year in Wales on alleviating poverty but without a clear plan it’s not possible to properly evaluate its effectiveness. Reducing poverty levels and giving people the things and the money they need has to be a priority for all UK governments.”

Quotes from children

9-year-old-boy: “Help kids at school who don’t have much money and are sad about it”

11-year-old girl: “Don’t charge so much to eat in schools. I see so many children having to go hungry because they have no money”

13-year-old girl: “make school meals free because some people struggle to afford the school meals and then are left hungry for the rest of the day”

11-year-old-girl: “make sure children have food at home if they parents can’t afford food”

Parents’ survey

The results of the parents survey showed a wide range of financial worries:

  • 68% worried about their children having enough money for the things they need
  • 44% worried about paying for three meals a day
  • 54% worried about paying for school uniform
  • 57% worried about the cost of school trips
  • 59% worried about paying for clothing
  • 68% worried about paying for trips and days out
  • 67% worried about paying for birthday presents and gifts
  • 49% worried about paying for resources for school, like stationery and equipment

On 17 November the Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education committee will scrutinise the Children’s Commissioner’s annual report, which urges to the Welsh Government to do more to tackle child poverty through a Child Poverty Action Plan.

The Annual Report also recommends that Welsh Government pilot free public transport for under 18s, which would alleviate a key cost facing children and young people, a call supported by the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales.