SIRE launches fight against child poverty

05 March 2021

1 in 13 children in the Netherlands lives in poverty. From 2021 onwards, poverty will increase by at least 28%.

In the Netherlands, more than 250,000 children are unable to participate with their peers due to a lack of money. With all the consequences this entails. Children experience stress and tension at home, experience social exclusion and have a greatly increased risk of ending up in poverty themselves. Due to the effects of government policy and the consequences of the coronary crisis, the number of children in poverty is expected to rise sharply in the coming period, according to the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP). The Stichting Ideële Reclame (SIRE) starts today with a new campaign in which they draw attention to this problem. “We are outraged that in a prosperous country like the Netherlands so many children live in poverty,” says SIRE director Lucy van der Helm. “We are all responsible for this, politicians first and foremost. And that’s why we have to talk about it with each other. Everyone. From circle time conversations at school to debates in the Lower House. This problem deserves a structural solution.”

Figures show urgency

According to the SCP, the number of people in poverty will increase by 28% over the next few years as a result of austerity measures in the Social Security system. The consequences of the corona crisis will be added to this. The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has calculated the strongest economic contraction ever recorded (-3.8%). And the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) predicts greater income inequality in the long term and unemployment of 8% at the end of 2021 in the worst scenario. Moreover, internationally the Netherlands is virtually last in terms of the number of children pulled out of poverty through social schemes, according to a study by Leiden University comparing 27 countries.

“Of all age groups, children are at greatest risk of poverty. Compared to seniors, three times as many children in the Netherlands even live in poverty. If you zoom in on the expected poverty increase of 28%, you see that this will not affect seniors, where poverty is low because of the state pension, but rather families with children. The increasing social and economic inequality this causes underlines the great social urgency of this problem. Alarm bells are needed,” said Prof. Dr. Koen Caminada, Professor of Empirical Analysis of Social and Fiscal Regulation at Leiden University.

Little knowledge of the problem, but much support

Almost 80% of Dutch people underestimate the number of children living in poverty, according to research by PanelWizard commissioned by SIRE. Faced with the facts, 88% of the Dutch population finds it (very) unacceptable that so many children grow up in poverty. Almost half think that child poverty mainly occurs in families where the parents do not work. This is a persistent prejudice: about 40% of the parents of children in poverty have a job, but structurally earn too little to support their family.

Although the SIRE research shows that more than 70% of the Dutch population is prepared to make an effort, a third indicates that they do not know how they can do this. Van der Helm: “Not only should the government do more, we also hope that as many people as possible will help children in poverty. On you can find various aid organizations where people can go who want to mean something for children in poverty.”

Politics does too little, SIRE starts petition

Almost half of the Netherlands finds that the central government and municipalities play the most important role in solving child poverty. At the same time, 45% think that the government offers too little help. Only 1 in 5 Dutch people believe that politics (including their own party) is sufficiently committed to this problem. Almost half of those questioned are prepared to vote for a political party that is committed to tackling child poverty. As part of the campaign SIRE starts a petition on that calls on the new cabinet to come up with a concrete plan to structurally solve child poverty.

Let’s talk about that

A child growing up in poverty often simply cannot participate. Not taking part in sports, not going to birthday parties, not going on school trips. Children in poverty therefore run the risk of being excluded. “The slogan of the campaign ‘Let’s talk about that’ not only stands for collective indignation, but is also an appeal. A call to everyone in the Netherlands to make child poverty a real topic of discussion, because every child in poverty is one too many,” said Van der Helm.

Video portrait of Anashya, Zakariyya and Romy 

For the campaign, SIRE made, among other things, three video portraits of children living in poverty. Anashya (11 years old), Zakariyya (13 years old) and Romy (12 years old) have a candid conversation with someone important to them. “Talking to children in poverty is crucial in order to map out, from their experience, what is really going on and where their needs lie. Material, emotional and social. Really seeing, hearing and acknowledging them is the start of tackling this problem. Not about them but with them, as the video portraits show. These insights help form the basis for a structural approach,” says Laurentien van Oranje, who is closely involved in the campaign and has for years been working from various angles for children in poverty.

The campaign can be seen everywhere from Friday 5 March: on TV, radio, online, in newspapers, magazines, outdoor advertising and social media. Background information about the campaign can be found on



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