A further 100,000 children have been pushed into relative poverty, according to new statistics published today, as a leading charity called on the UK Government to end the “punitive freeze on benefits for working and non-working families”.
The latest ‘households below average income’ statistics show that 30% of children in the UK are currently living in relative poverty after housing costs, rising from 4 million to 4.1 million.
The statistics also reveal that 67% of poor children come from working families, despite increases to the minimum wage and record employment rates.
Risk of poverty for self-employed couples with children increased from 30% to 33%, while this also increased among children in lone parent families increases and households with more than three children – from 47% to 49% and 39% to 42% respectively (after housing costs).
Commenting, 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%, 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% 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% 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.”