19 December 2023

The Centre for Social Justice’s Social Justice Commission has published its interim report last Sunday – Two Nations: The State of Poverty in the UK, an exploration of poverty’s enduring grip on Britain.

Notably, the report acknowledges the contribution of the RCSLT, highlighting our submission, which underlined the insufficiently discussed correlation between speech, language, and communication needs (SLCN) and poverty.

This in-depth analysis, led by an esteemed panel, paints a stark picture of a nation divided by wealth. The findings suggest that the UK’s most disadvantaged groups have not progressed significantly since the 2008 financial crash. The report also reveals the profound and destructive impact of the pandemic lockdowns on the country’s social structure, disproportionately affecting the less fortunate and widening the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots”.

Children emerge as one of the most affected groups in this scenario. The report notes a disturbing increase in mental health problems among the young, with current figures indicating that one in five children are now diagnosed with a mental health issue. This number escalates for older teenagers. Alarmingly, projections suggest that by 2030, the prevalence of mental disorders in children aged 5 to 15 could exceed one in four, with a significant rise, particularly among boys, if current trends continue.

The report stresses that mental health is a primary concern for the most deprived, contrasting sharply with the general population and highlighting the deep-seated inequalities in mental health access and support.

Two Nations: The State of Poverty in the UK highlights the existing disparities within the UK, advocating for measures that not only acknowledge but actively tackle the interconnected challenges of poverty and mental health. The RCSLT plays a pivotal role in this call for action by linking speech, language, and communication needs with poverty and disadvantage.

The government must create and implement effective solutions to alleviate these intertwined issues, ensuring that all citizens, especially the most vulnerable, receive the support and resources they need to thrive.