Call for national measurement of children’s well-being

According to The Children’s Society annual survey of children’s well-being, nearly one in five children aged 10-17 in the UK have reported being unhappy with their lives as a whole during the coronavirus lockdown - that's the equivalent of 1.1m.

That has led the Children’s Society to call for a national measurement of children’s well-being to help inform plans to make a positive difference - as it does already for young people aged over 16 and adults.

The survey was completed by just over 2,000 young people and their parents between April and June. It found 18 per cent of children were dissatisfied with their lives overall. That is a marked increase in a figure which has ranged from 10 per cent to 13 per cent over the last five years.

The Children’s Society says the coronavirus crisis and lockdown is likely to explain the worrying surge. Its report, Life On Hold, also found that half of parents (50%) expected coronavirus to harm their children’s happiness over the coming year.

It found that, while for the last two years more children reported being unhappy with school than with nine other aspects of their lives, this year more young people said they were unhappy with the amount of ‘choice’ they have. When parents and their children were asked questions about the impact of coronavirus, nearly half (46%) of parents reported their child was unhappier with how much choice they have in their lives due to the pandemic.

The crisis also appears to have had a real impact on children’s relationships with friends and family. Children reported that the aspects of coronavirus they struggled to cope most with were being unable to see friends (37%) and family (30%).

Despite this, a majority of children (84%) said they had coped to some extent with the impact of the pandemic overall. Girls reported coping less well than boys with being unable to see friends, school or college closures and exam cancellations.

A review of schooling by the Department for Education to ensure pupils’ well-being is considered not just in the short-term as schools re-open - but becomes a permanent priority underpinning all aspects of school life including the National Curriculum, exams and behaviour management.

More investment in open-access community mental health services where children can get support with their emotional well-being. This should be part of an early intervention strategy backed by dedicated local grants.

Better financial support for low-income families; for instance, £10 per week increases in child benefit, the child element of child tax credit and Universal Credit; scrapping the benefit cap and two-child limit; tackling the five-week wait for Universal Credit by offering advance payments as grants rather than loans.


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