THE ANNUAL UK POVERTY STATISTICS for the year leading up to the pandemic have been published by the government.

Commenting on the figures, Child Poverty Action Group Chief Executive Alison Garnham called for an increase in child benefit.

She said: “This dismal data shows child poverty levels are now devastatingly high, and that’s before we see the impact of the pandemic. Children and their families will pay the price unless government acts urgently. Ministers must develop a clear plan to prevent child poverty – and raising child benefit would be a good place to start.”

Households Below Average Income 2019- 2020, shows:

  • 200,000 more children fell into relative poverty (after housing costs) in 2019-2020 – twice the increase in the previous year. That means 4.3 million children (31 per cent of all UK children) are in poverty – up from 3.6 million in 2010-11.
  • 51 per cent of all children in poverty are in families with a youngest child aged under five
  • 73 per cent of poor children lived in working families in 2019-20, up from 71 per cent in 2018-19, and 12 per cent of poor children had a self-employed parent.
  • Poor families have fallen deeper into poverty: 2.9 million children were in deep poverty (i.e. with a household income below 50 per cent of AHC equivalised median income), 600,000 more than in 2010/11
  • 1.7 million children went hungry because their family could not afford enough food
  • 49 per cent of lone parents are now in poverty (up from 44 per cent in 2018-19)
  • 47 per cent of children in families with three or more children were in poverty, up from 43 per cent the year before and 36 per cent a decade earlier.

Alison Garnham said: “Increasing child benefit by £10 per week would lift 450,000 children from poverty.  One year from now we should not have to look at data showing even more children have fallen into poverty because of Government inaction.

“Today’s poverty figures show what was clear all along, that low-income families with children entered the pandemic financially vulnerable and with child poverty having risen by 700,000 since 2012 when benefit cuts began. Despite child poverty having fallen prior to 2010, we have now seen a decade of cuts to our social safety net and entered the pandemic expecting to spend £36 billion a year less on social security so it is no surprise that child poverty has risen.  We badly need a cross- government strategy to end child poverty and increasing child benefit should be the first action point. “

* Households Below Average Income 2019- 2020 here.

* Source: Child Poverty Action Group