UK poverty report: 1.8 million children are growing up in deep poverty

There are 500,000 more children living in significant poverty in 2019/20 compared to 2011/12

Children living in poverty

A damning new report looking at poverty in the UK has found that 1.8 million children are growing up in ‘deep poverty’, with 500,000 more children living in significant poverty in 2019/20 compared to 2011/12.

The new analysis published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, also found that households on low incomes will be spending on average 18% of their income after housing costs on energy bills after April.  

For single adult families on low incomes, this rises to 54%. By contrast, the impact on higher-earning families will be much less severe – it says middle-income households will be spending an average of 6% of their income on energy bills.

The report, entitled, ‘UK Poverty 2022: The essential guide to understanding poverty in the UK’, also warns that the poorest families will be hit disproportionately hard when the Energy Price Cap rises in April.

The report states: “Low-income households have less of a buffer against rising costs or any unexpected expenses, given they are less likely than other households to have savings, with just over a third of people in the poorest fifth of households having liquid savings of less than £250 compared with 1 in 6 of the overall population.”

Soaring energy bills, tax increases and inflation are pushing families up and down the country into destitution. The amount energy companies can charge customers on certain tariffs under the government’s Energy Price Cap is predicted to go up in April by around 51%.

The JRF is calling for an immediate emergency payment for people on the lowest incomes to help prevent hardship in the months ahead.

Katie Schmuecker at JRF said: “The reality for many families is that too many children know the constant struggle of poverty. The fact that more children are in poverty and sinking deeper into poverty should shame us all.

“The case for targeted support to help people on the lowest incomes could not be clearer. But this must go hand in hand with urgent action to strengthen our social security system, which was woefully inadequate even before living costs began to rise.

“Our basic rate of benefits is at its lowest real rate for 30 years and this is causing avoidable hardship. The Government must do the right thing and strengthen this vital public service.

“Rising energy prices will affect everyone, but our analysis shows they have the potential to devastate the budgets of families on the lowest incomes. The Government cannot stand by and allow the rising cost of living to knock people off their feet.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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