New figures have revealed a record 2.9 million British children are living in poverty even though their parents are working.
A number of separate reports into poverty inn recent weeks have confirmed that it is on the rise with 70% of poor children coming from families where at least one parent is in work and an overall eight million people are officially living in poverty.
Abandoned to poverty
A joint probe by a coalition of three charities accuse policymakers of allowing whole areas of cities to become abandoned to poverty, with more than half the children in them living below the poverty line.
The End Child Poverty Coalition chairwoman Anna Feuchtwang said: “In many areas growing up in poverty is not the exception, it’s the rule and with more children expected to get swept up in child poverty in the coming years there will be serious consequences for their life chances.
The depth of the problem
“Policymakers can no longer deny the depth of the problem or abandon entire areas to rising poverty.
“The government must respond with a credible child poverty policy.”
Publishing its annual poverty statistics, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) says the number of poor children in working families has now risen to 70% with more than two million of them under the age of five.
Chief executive Alison Garnham said: “Today’s poverty figures make grim reading with more than 4.1 million children still in poverty and a jump in the proportion of poor children in working families.
Despite high employment, today’s figures reveal that 70% of children living under the poverty line have at least one parent in work. That is not an economy that is working for everyone.
“Investing in children is the most significant investment we as a nation can make in our future.
We share a moral responsibility to protect children from hardship and enable them to fulfil their potential, but deep social security cuts for working and non-working families are restricting the life chances of a whole generation.
“At this critical point in the UK’s history, we need to step back and ask what kind of country we want for our children.
One in which millions are constrained by poverty or one that puts its belief in justice and compassion into practice when we make choices on public spending?”
The Resolution Foundation think tank claims the increase in child poverty has been primarily driven by the freeze in the value of working-age benefits, made worse by a spike in inflation to 3% in late 2017.
Spokesman Adam Corlett said: “With the bulk of the government’s £12 billion of welfare cuts taking place 2017-18, child poverty is likely to continue rising and could even hit a record high within the next few years.
“The political conversation around austerity may have shifted, but the living experience of it hasn’t for millions of families. Reducing child poverty needs to return to near the top of the government’s priority list.”
Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies looked at severe poverty for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation defining it as being living standards meaningfully below those on the poverty line.
Author Tom Waters said: “Severe poverty is a clear policy concern, but it is hard to measure.”
Foundation chief executive Campbell Robb commented: “Our economy should work for everyone, but the rise of working poverty across the UK shows that success in increasing employment isn’t always a reliable route to a better living standard.
“High housing costs, low pay and insecure hours are holding many people back, despite more people moving into work.
“Our next prime minister must further reform Universal Credit so that it helps more people get on, and bring forward an ambitious plan to rebalance the economy by investing in places where low employment and widespread low pay trap people in poverty.”