Child poverty facts and figures

Child poverty facts and figures - sources available here

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.1

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.2

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.3

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.4

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.5

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.

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.7

Child poverty imposes costs on broader society – estimated to be at least £25 billion a year.8 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.

Child poverty reduced dramatically between 1998/9-2010/12 when 1.1 million children were lifted out of poverty (BHC).9 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.

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.