Child poverty is tightening its grip on Britain’s poorest families, research suggests.
We have written articles before about child poverty in Britain. Children living in poverty is shocking and should be kept at the forefront of the news. Now new research is telling us that it is still getting worse.
The new study comes from the ‘End Child Poverty Coalition.
Child poverty continues its march.
The new research shows that in many of our cities, there are families in some areas where as many as two-thirds of the children are living in poverty.
Statistical analysis of official indices of poverty shows, in over 200 wards, more than half of children are below the poverty line.
Whole areas are abandoned to poverty, says the coalition of poverty charities.
The Children’s Society says:
Four million. Almost a third of children in the UK live in poverty. That’s around nine in the average classroom.
With the number set to rise to five million by 2020, the situation is getting worse,
Shockingly, two-thirds of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work.
Thousands more families are living on the cusp of the poverty line. One unexpected setback – like redundancy or illness – could push them into the poverty trap.
The latest research shows the situation worsening.
The latest research, carried out by Prof Donald Hirsh at the University of Loughborough, found the situation was getting worse in places where child poverty was already at the highest level.
It is in large cities like London, Greater Manchester and Birmingham where you find the highest levels of poverty. Depending on whether housing costs are taken into account, the rankings do change around a little.
But the ward with the highest level of child poverty in Britain is Bastwell in Blackburn. Here, 69% of children are living in poverty.
Half of the top 20 areas of poverty are in London. If housing costs are included. The London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney and Islington are the top four hardest-hit areas.
In Greater Manchester, the child poverty rate (before housing costs) is 40%. Nearly double the UK average of 22%.
‘Not the exception’
Coalition chairwoman Anna Feuchtwang said:
“In many areas growing up in poverty is not the exception, it’s the rule. More children are expected to get swept up in child poverty in the coming years, with serious consequences for their life chances.”
“Policymakers can no longer deny the depth of the problem or abandon entire areas to rising poverty.”
“The government must respond with a credible child poverty policy.”
What factors contribute to levels of poverty?
The results were calculated by combining official data on poverty indicators in local areas, such as unemployment, benefit take-up and the number of lone parents. Then to calculate the relative child poverty rates in local authorities, constituencies and by individual electoral wards.
Families are in relative poverty if they live on less than 60% of the middle household.
Each local area’s housing cost is factored in as well, to calculate real rates paid after housing costs are paid.
The Office of National Statistics and the World Bank use this method.
These methods show that after a long period when child poverty fell, it began to rise again in 2010.
Prof Hirsch said:
“What’s shocking rather than surprising is that over the previous 12 to 15 years, we had a period when it was going down.”
“We are now getting close to the time when we will have lost the gains we have made – half of those gains in reductions of child poverty have already been lost.”
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said children growing up in working households were five times less likely to be in relative poverty, which was why it was supporting families to improve their lives through work.
“Statistics show employment is at a joint record high, wages are outstripping inflation and income inequality and absolute poverty are lower than in 2010.”
“But we recognise some families need more support.”
“That is why we continue to spend £95 billion a year on working-age benefits and provide free school meals to more than one million of the country’s most disadvantaged children, to ensure every child has the best start in life.”
How does poverty affect children?
The Children’s Society says growing up in poverty can damage children’s well-being and their future life chances.
Children living in poverty are more likely to:
Have poor physical health
Experience mental health problems
Have low sense of well-being
Underachieve at school
Have employment difficulties in adult life
Experience social deprivation
Experience stigma and bullying at school.
How we can end child poverty in the UK – The Children’s Society.
Child poverty is expected to rise significantly in this country. It doesn’t need to be this way. In the UK we’ve had lower levels of child poverty in the past, and other countries similar to ours have less child poverty now. We need a commitment across society to tackle it.
We need to make sure that the Government is concerned about child poverty and is finding ways to prevent and reduce it. Better housing, better pay and better welfare support are crucial. In particular, we’re calling on the Government to urgently reconsider the scale of cuts affecting children’s social care services and the social security safety net, to prevent more children and young people being pushed into poverty.
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