Number of children in poverty hits record high say new statistics

New figures published today have showed the number of UK children living in poverty has hit a record high.

Since last year, there has been an increase of 100,000 more children living in poverty. Altogether, there are 4.3 million children living in poverty.

The latest figure is the highest since comparable records for the UK began in 2002/03.

The new report from the Department for Work and Pensions has revealed that absolute poverty has also risen. There are now 3.6 million children in absolute poverty compared to 3.3 million last year.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, responded to the figures, saying: “It is frankly shameful that in one of the world’s richest countries, child poverty is increasing by almost every measure, with more than two-thirds of children affected in working families.

“Schools are increasingly having to step in and support pupils and parents, with local authority budgets stretched to breaking point. School leaders and their staff are running foodbanks and warm hubs, providing crisis vouchers for supermarkets, offering use of showers and washing machines, and even giving parents cash for energy meters.

“However, this isn’t easy or sustainable, with many schools struggling to make budgets add up in support of their core teaching duties.

“As well as damaging children’s health and wellbeing, poverty also harms their progress at school, with those who arrive hungry, cold or tired unlikely to be ready to learn, while in some cases pupils’ attendance can be affected.

“While the cost-of-living crisis has made things harder, so too have political choices over the last decade around support for families who are struggling.

“The government must do much more to acknowledge and tackle child poverty, including introducing auto-enrolment for free school meals and extending their availability, and entitling all families to receive 30 hours of free childcare, properly funded by ministers.”

Responding to the new stats, Mark Russell, chief executive at The Children’s Society, said: “It’s utterly appalling that record numbers of children are living in relative poverty, and many more are facing deeper levels of poverty in the UK today. It’s shameful that a rich nation like ours can have millions of children going hungry, living in cold homes where even the basics are a seen as a luxury.

“Children deserve every opportunity to have fulfilling lives but these figures represent 4.3 million individual children whose chances are being hampered. Our own research shows that 1 in 5 children ‘always’ or ‘often’ worry about money, a burden no child deserves.

“We need the Government to step up, set clear targets to reduce child poverty, and invest in social security to meet them so that young people have the opportunity to thrive.”

You may also like...