Child Poverty in the UK

Nationally, child poverty rate has fallen over time - #195 - child-poverty-timeChart: Child Poverty Rate over time

Child poverty fell between 2007 and 2013 both before and after housing costs

Seventeen per cent (17%)of children are currently living in poverty before housing costs are taken into account. This rises to 27% after housing costs. The gap between the two different poverty measures has grown which reflects the rising housing costs over the past decade, pushing more people into poverty. Childcare and housing are two of the costs that take the biggest toll on families’ budgets. When you account for childcare costs, an extra 130,000 children are pushed into poverty .

The fall in Child Poverty is good news isn’t it?

Not really, because this just reflects the overall fall in income. Poverty is measured as the proportion of people living in households with an income below 60% of the contemporary median (average) household income. Income is disposable household income after tax, National Insurance and Council Tax. The UK’s median income has fallen in the last two years, and so the ‘poverty line’ itself has fallen also. This means that the reduction in poverty noted since 2010 simply means that people at the lower end of the income distribution saw their incomes fall less than average.
The relative share of in-work poverty has grown from under a half to nearly two thirds in the past decade. - #156 - child-poverty-parent-work-statusWork does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty in the UK. Two-thirds (64 per cent) of children growing up in poverty live in a family where at least one member works.

Child poverty has long-lasting effects. By GCSE, there is a 28 per cent gap between children receiving free school meals and their wealthier peers in terms of the number achieving at least 5 A*-C GCSE grades .

Poverty is also related to more complicated health histories over the course of a lifetime, again influencing earnings as well as the overall quality – and indeed length – of life. Men in the most deprived areas of England have a life expectancy 9.2 years shorter than men in the least deprived areas. They also spend 14% less of their life in good health . Women share similar statistics.

Child poverty imposes costs on broader society – estimated to be at least £29 billion a year . Governments forgo prospective revenues as well as commit themselves to providing services in the future if they fail to address child poverty in the here and now.

Please see the Child Poverty Action Group website from which the above data and commentary was drawn.