Child Poverty Action Group responds to new poverty statistics

By agency reporter
March 22, 2018

Today (22 March 2018) the government released figures for Households Below Average Income. The figures show:

  • 30 per cent of children (4.1 million) in poverty for second year running after housing costs (AHC)
  • 67 per cent of poor children are in working families (AHC)
  • Risk of poverty for self-employed couples with children up from 30 per cent to 33 per cent (AHC)
  • Risk of poverty for children in lone parent families up from 47 per cent to 49 per cent (AHC)
  • Risk of poverty for children in families with three or more children up from 39 per cent to 42 per cent (AHC)

Child Poverty Action Group points out that, although the percentage of children in poverty is at 30 per cent for the second year running, the number of children in poverty in fact rose by 100,000 in 2016-2017.

Responding to today’s statistics, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham said, “It's bad enough that for a second year running our child poverty rate is at 30 per cent, largely driven by social security cuts, but for hard-pressed families there is worse to come.   We are only half way into a four-year freeze on children’s benefits that is hitting family budgets very hard.   Child benefit alone will lose 23 per cent of its value over the decade so low-income families are losing core support as prices rise.

“Four million children are below the official poverty line in 2016-2017, 67 per cent of them in working families.   How many more children will follow before the Government accepts that cuts to vital financial support are leaving families with too little to live on? 

“The Prime Minister entered Downing Street with a pledge to protect the living standards of ordinary families.   Today's official child poverty figures show the Government is in denial on child poverty.   If the Government is to make good on its pledge of support for struggling families, ending the punitive freeze on benefits for working and non-working families must be a priority.

“Absolute poverty measures show what people today are living on in relation to a fixed median income in the past - currently pegged to 2010-2011. It should always fall as we move away from that point in time, that’s the bare minimum we can expect.  Focusing on absolute poverty tells us nothing about how many people are drifting further away from the middle today.  The problem we have is that 4 million children are in poverty, and some of the children due to be hit hardest by cuts – those in single parent families or families with more than two children – are seeing their risk of poverty rise.

“All serious academics and economists, including the IFS, project that child poverty will rise by a further 1 million by 2021/22.  A serious policy response is required to fill the current policy vacuum on child poverty and children’s life chances. 

“Today’s figures should sound a warning bell that if we fail to invest in children we will damage the life chances of a generation and the long-term prosperity of the country.”

Poverty figures quoted are for relative child poverty, measured as children living in households below 60 per cent of median income, adjusted for family size, after housing costs.

* Households Below Average Income statistics are here 

* Child Poverty Action Group




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