Child Poverty Facts and Figures – CPAG

The following has been reproduced with the kind permission of Child Poverty Action Group

There are 3.6 million children living in poverty in the UK today. That’s 27 per cent of children, or more than one in four. (Households Below Average Income, An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2010/11, Tables 4.1tr and 4.3tr. Department for Work and Pensions, 2012.)

There are even more serious concentrations of child poverty at a local level: in 100 local wards, for example, between 50 and 70 per cent of children are growing up in poverty. (Child Poverty Map of the UK, End Child Poverty, March 2011).

Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty in the UK. Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of children growing up in poverty live in a household where at least one member works. (Households Below Average Income, An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2010/11, Table 4.3db. Department for Work and Pensions, 2012.)

People are poor for many reasons. But explanations which put poverty down to drug and alcohol dependency, family breakdown, poor parenting, or a culture of worklessness are not supported by the facts. (For example, G Hay and L Bauld, Population estimates of problematic drug users in England who access DWP benefits, Department for Work and Pensions, 2008, suggest that 6.6 per cent of the total number of benefit claimants in England were problem drug users. While drug misuse may prove to be a key reason this group of people finds it hard to escape poverty, it clearly has no explanatory power for the other 93.4 per cent of claimants.)

Child poverty blights childhoods. Growing up in poverty means being cold, going hungry, not being able to join in activities with friends. For example, 62 per cent of families in the bottom income quintile would like, but cannot afford, to take their children on holiday for one week a year. (Households Below Average Income, An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2010/11, Table 4.7 db. Department for Work and Pensions, 2012.)

Child poverty has long-lasting effects. By 16, children receiving free school meals achieve 1.7 grades lower at GCSE than their wealthier peers.6 Leaving school with fewer qualifications translates into lower earnings over the course of a working life. (GCSE and Equivalent Attainment by Pupil Characteristics in England 2009/10, Department for Education 2011.)

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. Professionals live, on average, eight years longer than unskilled workers. (Life expectancy at birth and at the age of 65 by local areas in the UK, 2004-6 and 2008-10, Office of National Statistics, October 2011.)

Child poverty imposes costs on broader society – estimated to be at least £25 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. (D Hirsch, Estimating the costs of child poverty, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2008)

Child poverty reduced dramatically between 1998/9-2010/12 when 1.1 million children were lifted out of poverty (BHC). This reduction is credited in large part to measures that increased the levels of lone parents working, as well as real and often significant increases in the level of benefits paid to families with children. (Households Below Average Income, An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2010/11, Department for Work and Pensions, 2012.)

Under current government policies, child poverty is projected to rise from 2012/13 with an expected 300,000 more children living in poverty by 2015/16.10 This upward trend is expected to continue with 4.2 million children projected to be living in poverty by 2020. (M Brewer, J Browne and R Joyce, Child and working age poverty from 2010 to 2020, Institute for Fiscal Studies, October 2011.)

For more information, please visit the following pages on the Child Poverty Action Group website:

What is poverty
Measuring poverty
The UK poverty line
Measuring poverty – alternative approaches
What causes poverty
The impact of poverty
How can we end child poverty in the UK

http://www.cpag.org.uk/

Child Poverty Action group http://www.cpag.org.uk/

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