Child poverty
Unicef report shows UK still in bottom half of league table for child wellbeing (Reuters)

A new Unicef report reveals Britain ranks 16th out of the world's 29 most advanced economies for child well-being.

The study, entitled Report Card 11, says the UK was at the bottom of the international league table of child well-being at the start of the 2000s.

Over a decade later, the nation has moved up, but the report shows there are still problems in addressing child welfare issues.

The report said the UK is struggling with high rates of teenage pregnancy as well as high numbers of young people out of education, employment and training, and that it has one of the highest rates of alcohol abuse among 11 to 15-year-olds.

It also came in the bottom third of the table for infant mortality rates, along with two of the other richest nations in the developed world, the US and Canada.

Unicef said the downgrading of youth policy and cuts to local government services are having a negative effect on young people.

Topping the table were the Netherlands and Nordic countries such as Finland, Iceland and Norway, while countries in southern Europe including Greece, Italy and Spain were placed in the bottom half of the league.

Spain was one of the countries that fell furthest. It was ranked 5th in the early 2000s and now sits in 19th place.

Absolute poverty increasing

The US came 26th in the table, with only Lithuania, Latvia and Romania faring worse.

Speaking about how the UK fared was Jonathan Bradshaw, a Professor of Social Policy at the University of York who contributed to the report.

He said: "Although Report Card 11 shows that if the effort is made children's lives can be improved, it also highlights that there is no room for complacency when it comes to the well-being of children and young people.

"The UK is 16th, which still ranks it lower in the child wellbeing league table than much poorer countries including Slovenia, Czech Republic and Portugal.

"The evidence in Report Card 11 also pre-dates most of the policies introduced by the Coalition Government to cut the deficit. Unemployment has gone up and most of the cuts to benefits and services have been loaded on families with children at a time when real living standards have been falling.

"Already there is evidence that child deprivation and absolute poverty have begun to increase. Evidence from the Understanding Society survey suggests that the subjective well-being of 11-15 year olds has begun to fall.

"Rates of young people not in education, employment and training are up and there may even be a reduction in further education rates in England.

"Just as the evidence emerges that we have made progress in comparison with other countries, we are once again moving backwards."