A devastating new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has revealed that child poverty has been rising dramatically since 2011/12. The number of children in poverty has risen by over 500,000 in the past 5 years.
The JRF described the rise as “much faster” than would be expected based on population growth: the total number of children has risen by 3%, while the number of children in poverty has risen by 15%. Nearly half (49%) of all children in lone-parent families live in poverty.
“In the last five years, poverty rates have risen for every type of working family; lone-parent or couple families, families with full and part-time workers and families with different numbers of adults in work. This is the first period in the last two decades when this has happened“
The report, published today, finds more than one in five of the UK’s population (22%) in poverty: 14.3 million people. Of these, 8.2 million are ‘working-age adults’, 4.1 million are children, and 1.9 million are pensioners.
The charity defines relative poverty as being when a household earns less than 60% of the median income. The average median income for UK households after housing costs was £425 a week (£22,100 a year) in 2016-17.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of the JRF, said: “We are seeing a rising tide of child poverty as more parents are unable to make ends meet, despite working. This is unacceptable.
“It’s time for us to decide what kind of country we want to be. As we leave the EU, we must tackle the burning injustice of poverty and make Britain a country that works for everyone”.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We disagree with this report, and there are now one million fewer people living in absolute poverty since 2010, including 300,000 children”.
JRF recommends ending the freeze on benefits and tax credits next spring. As well as helping 200,000 people out of poverty, they say the move would increase the incomes of nearly 14 million people on low incomes by an average of £270 in 2020/21.
This latest research comes less than three weeks after a highly critical UN report on the impact of austerity in the UK, which accused the Tory government of “callous” spending policies that have hit the poorest hardest.
The report can be downloaded here.