Toggle high contrast
child in park
i
Getty/Adam Angelides

Child poverty in working households has rocketed by 800,000 since 2010

Author
Published date
The number of children from working households growing up in poverty has risen by 38% over the last decade. Politicians must act to reverse this shameful trend.

TUC analysis shows child poverty in working households has risen by 800,000 since 2010 – a massive 38 percent increase.

It means there are now 2.9 million children in poverty in working households.

In 2010, around 1 in 5 working households had children growing up in poverty. In 2018, this had increased to around 1 in 4.

London has seen the largest increase in child poverty in working households, with a 68 percent rise across the period leaving a third of children with at least one parent in work locked in poverty.

What's behind the rise?

Our new analysis also shows that government policy accounts for most of the rise in child poverty.

More than 485,000 children (over 60%) in working households have been pushed below the breadline as a direct result of the government’s in-work benefit cuts.

The other key factors behind the rise in child poverty include weak wage growth and the spread of insecure work.

The rise in the number of working families has not been enough to lift families out of poverty.

Over the past decade, workers have suffered the most severe wage squeeze in two centuries.

While real wages have just started to grow, there is still a lot of ground to make up before real pay returns to even just the level it was at before the 2008 recession hit.

Using the inflation measure of CPI, weekly wages are still £14 below pre-crisis levels.

Real weekly wages are still £14 below where they were in 2008
Real weekly wages are still £14 below where they were in 2008

TUC analysis also shows insecure work is now a daily reality for 3.7 million UK workers.

A pay penalty is associated with these forms of work, with workers often experiencing low pay and economic hardship.

Pay for those on non-standard contracts
Child poverty

Source TUC

Our analysis also shows a third (33%) of those in insecure work have a child to support, which is around 1.2 million workers.

This proportion is similar to those working as a permanent employee (36%).

Impact of child poverty

There are 4.1 million children in the UK in poverty, up from 3.6m since 2010. Prior to this, child poverty was falling.

The fact that children are in hardship in a developed country like the UK is outrageous.

No child should live in poverty in our country.

The consequences for children living in poverty and not having the resources to participate in everyday life are far reaching.

Poverty is associated with shame and stigma. It is also socially harmful, as children feel socially excluded as low income limits their ability to integrate into the community.

According to a damning report into extreme poverty and human rights by the UN Special Rapporteur , "children are showing up at school with empty stomachs, and schools are collecting food and sending it home because teachers know their students will otherwise go hungry".

Teachers have witnessed the growing levels of poverty in their schools first-hand. A joint survey by the National Education Union (NEU) and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), found that:

  • 87 per cent of respondents say that poverty is having a significant impact on the learning of their pupils and students
  • 81 per cent of respondents said they often (55 per cent) or sometimes (27 per cent) come across pupils who had not eaten a healthy breakfast; and two-thirds said they often or sometimes meet pupils without sufficient food to eat during the school day
  • 85 per cent said they often or sometimes knew of pupils without weather appropriate clothing, such as a coat or jumper; and 83 per cent said they often or sometimes see pupils without weather appropriate footwear.

We need a government that puts working families first

It needs to

  • Raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour
  • Stop and scrap Universal Credit
  • Ban zero-hours contracts
  • Give workers new rights to join unions and bargain for better pay and conditions across industries

Annex

Increase in number of children living in poverty in working households since 2010 (nation/region) (AHC) 

Region

Number of children in poverty in 2010

Number of children in poverty in 2018

Extra children in poverty (000s)

Extra children in poverty (%)

North East

71,362

108,775

37,413

52

North West

241,300

335,190

93,890

39

Yorkshire & Humber

206,827

217,571

10,744

5

East Midlands

124,690

184,085

59,395

48

West Midlands

191,504

299,510

108,006

56

Eastern England

171,637

268,516

96,879

56

London

362,448

609,002

246,554

68

South East

248,435

340,996

92,561

37

South West

179,550

215,403

35,853

20

Wales

124,102

119,693

-4,409

-4

Scotland

112,075

121,925

9,850

9

Northern Ireland

53,404

59,690

6,286

12

Total

2,087,334

2,880,356

793,022

38

Source - Landman Economics