6 Class acts
Winston Churchill was proud to be a representative of the British class system, and the political party he led (the Conservatives) has resisted many attempts to dismantle it, with varying degrees of success (Wayne, 2018; Williams, 1983).
Poverty is sometimes regarded as natural and inevitable. Christian teaching can be used to make the point – ‘the poor you will always have with you’ is attributed to Jesus (John 12:8; Matthew 26:11) – but child poverty is far from natural and varies across time and between countries, according to different political priorities of government.
Child poverty in the UK has increased dramatically since 2010 because of the imposition of austerity policies, prompted by the global financial crisis. The Institute of Fiscal Studies estimates that, unless these policies change, 37 per cent of children will be living in poverty by 2022 (Ryan, 2019). Youth justice systems will almost inevitably focus on the actions of some of the children and young people who make up this percentage, whatever it turns out to be. Reducing poverty may not be the principal aim of any youth justice system but, if it is not part of a broader strategy of social justice, its prospects for success will be limited.