UK Government statistics published recently have shown that over 4.1 million children are now living in severe poverty after household costs all over the UK. The staggering number is compared to an insane four million recorded the previous year, surging by over 100,000, which is now accounting for more than 30 percent of children in the country.
Compared to the overall population of the UK, children remained the most likely to be in any case of poverty. The numbers recorded that almost one in three children were living in a state of poverty, compared with 21 percent of working age adults and 16 percent of pensioners.
So why has the statistics surged so fast? The figures have fuelled a large scale of concern that the rise is due to benefit cuts and tax credits under the Tory Government that are now seeing children taking the hardest hit, with around one and a half million more children under 18 predicted to live in a household below the relative poverty line by 2022.
Relative child poverty in itself is measured as children living in homes where the income is 60 percent of the median household income in the UK, adjusted for family size and after housing costs. Separate government statistics published recently also showed that the number of households in temporary accommodation has surged 64 percent since the Tories came to power in 2010, of which more than 2,000 had children accomodating them.
Labour MP Margaret Greenwood, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary took it upon himself to respond to the shocking rise in child poverty, stating “These figures show that after eight years of Conservative austerity, Labour’s progress in tackling child poverty has been reversed with a shocking increase in the numbers of children living in poverty. No child should be forced to grow up in poverty. The next Labour government will make tackling child poverty an immediate priority.”
Chief executive of The Children’s Society Matthew Reed also noted that the “shocking” statistics must “spur the Government into decisive action” to help the millions of children now living in poverty across the country.” He later commented, saying “Growing up in poverty can affect every aspect of a child’s life: their home, health, education, family relationships and even friendships. These figures show the toll that systematic cuts to welfare, including the freeze on children’s benefits, have taken on low-income families and the Government must now urgently review this freeze.”
During the exchange, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)’s chief executive, Alison Garnham, accused the Government of being too lenient and in denial on child poverty, urging that if it is to “make good” on its pledge of support for struggling families, ending the freeze on benefits for working and non-working families must be prioritised quickly.
Alison Garnham expressed her concerns, voicing “It’s bad enough that for a second year running our child poverty rate is at 30 per cent, largely driven by social security cuts, but for hard-pressed families there is worse to come.”
The Government highlighted that despite that there’s a noticeable decline in relative poverty among children, the statistics collected also show that rates of absolute child poverty, which measures what people are living on in relation to a fixed median income in the past, which is currently pegged to 2010-2011 and has fallen drastically.
Minister for family support, housing and child maintenance Kit Malthouse said: “It’s fantastic news that one million fewer people are living in absolute poverty than in 2010, including 300,000 children. It makes sense that poverty rates are falling while the employment rate is increasing, and today’s figures confirm that work remains the best route out of poverty.” She continued by saying, “We know there is more to do to ensure that every child gets the very best chances in life. Our welfare reforms offer parents tailored support to move into work, ensuring that even more families can enjoy the opportunities and benefits that work can bring.”
Due to the alarming numbers, the TUC has stated that other key factors behind the rise in child poverty are summed up as weak wage growth, the spread of insecure work, population growth and the increase in working families. The analysis, in which was carried out for the TUC by Landman Economics estimated that 3.1 million children with working parents will unfortunately be below the official breadline in 2018, compared to 2.1 million at the start of the decade.