Shocking new report reveals 1.6m children live in ‘severe poverty’

A new report out today has revealed nearly 1.6 million children in the UK live in severe poverty, with the highest levels of child poverty in Manchester and Tower Hamlets.

A new report out today has revealed nearly 1.6 million children in the UK live in severe poverty, with the highest levels of child poverty in Manchester and the London borough of Tower Hamlets. Save the Children, which published the report, say more children will be ‘tipped into poverty’ by the impending public sector job losses and changes to benefits – despite the government insisting it was “fully committed to the goal of eradicating child poverty by 2020”.


As Left Foot Forward’s Nicola Smith reported yesterday, those welfare reforms, which work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith claimed would lead “350,000 children” out of poverty, may in fact have at best no impact, at worse lead to 50,000 more children in poverty:

In a study funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation they have estimated that between 2011-12 and 2013-14 government policy will lead to the number of children living in relative poverty increasing by 300,000 – with absolute poverty levels rising by half a million. These changes result from the benefit cuts the government has committed to introduce over the next three years.

IFS’s research does not forecast forward to 2014-15, but it seems fair to presume that, given their analysis shows 100,000 and 200,000 children a year respectively are moved into poverty as a result of the benefit reductions over each preceding years, as a minimum the government’s cuts will mean another 50,000 will be moved into poverty in 2014-15 (compared to the current, pre-June 2010 Budget, system).

In other words, between now and 2014-15, at least 350,000 children will move into relative poverty as a result of the coalition’s benefit cuts. Then, when Universal Credit comes along, 350,000 may be moved out (mainly as a result of increased benefit take up).

At best, this suggests that the net impact of welfare reform on child poverty will be zero, and at worst, if the benefits of UC fail to materialise or if the cuts in 2014-15 affect (as they may well do) more than 50,000 children, the net impact of welfare changes on child poverty over the next four years will be negative.

A Save The Children spokeswoman described today’s figures as a “national scandal”, adding:

“Children up and down the country are going to sleep at night in homes with no heating, without eating a proper meal and without proper school uniforms to put on in the morning.

“No child should be born without a chance.”

• Later today, Left Foot Forward will have more reaction to these shocking figures, looking in more detail at the situation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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