Child poverty ‘new normal’ with 500,000 more kids living in poverty since 2010
Child poverty is becoming the ‘new normal’ in parts of Britain as half a million more children are blighted by poverty today than at the start of the decade.
The number of poor kids has risen from 3.6 million in 2010/11 to 4.1 million in 2017/18.
Research by the End Child Poverty coalition indicated that more than half of children were “trapped” in poverty in some areas.
The Government was urged to reverse cuts to children’s services and reform Universal Credit to tackle the growing issue.
The highest rates are in big cities, particularly London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester.
Experts say poorer families’ income has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs.
They warn that work is not proving a successful path out of poverty for many with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.
Anna Feuchtwang, who chairs the End Child Poverty coalition, said: “We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs, and we know that work alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.
“Yet in many areas, growing up in poverty is not the exception, it’s the rule, with more children expected to get swept up in 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-reduction strategy.
“The Government’s own data shows that child poverty in the UK has been rising steadily in recent years.
“Growing up in poverty means growing up trapped. It restricts a child’s chances of doing well at school, of living a healthy and happy life, and of finding well-paid work as adults. We urgently need Government to set a course of action that will free our children from the grip of poverty.”
The data, published by the End Child Poverty coalition, highlights how worrying levels of child poverty vary across Britain and shows that poverty is on the rise – and rising fastest in places where it is already highest.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies projects that as a result of cuts to benefits and in-work allowances child poverty will increase to 5.1 million by 2022
Margaret Greenwood MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “It is time for the Government to wake up to the growing poverty crisis in Britain.
“If we are to succeed as a country we must invest in our children but by 2021, our social security system will have shrunk by £36 billion per year, with disastrous consequences for families across the UK.
“The impact of child poverty is well known: unhappy children, lower educational attainment and poor employment outcomes in adulthood.
“Labour will overhaul our social security system and make tackling child poverty the priority it should be once more.”
A Government spokesman said: “This study is based on estimates rather than actual measurements of income.
"Children growing up in working households are five times less likely to be in relative poverty, which is why we are supporting families to improve their lives through work.
“And 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.”
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