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Sharp rise in number of children growing up in poverty in working households

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The number of children from working households growing up in poverty has risen by 900,000 (44 %) since 2010. Our analysis shows that this is the equivalent of a rise of 1,350 children a week in to poverty. A toxic combination of wage stagnation, rising insecure work and cuts to social security have had a devastating impact on family budgets. 

Previous TUC analysis showed the number of people living below the poverty line in working households is 1.6 million higher than in 2010. The mantra that work pays is increasingly untrue.

In 2010 there were 2.1 million children in poverty from working household and in 2023 this has reached 3 million. Sixty nine percent of children in poverty are now from a working household.    


Real wages are still worth less today than in 2008 and the union body estimates that had they grown at their pre-crisis trend since the Tories took power the average worker would be over £14,000 a year better off.

Insecure work

Work has become increasingly precarious and insecure, recent analysis from the TUC shows that the number of people in insecure work, has increased by nearly 1 million during the Conservatives’ time in office -  to a record 4.1 million. 1 in 8 workers are now in employment that offers little or no security, and insecure work has risen nearly three times faster than secure forms of employment since 2011.  

The analysis also shows that people in insecure work face a severe pay penalty compared to other workers. People on zero-hours contracts earn over a third (35%) less an hour, on average, than workers on median pay. And the pay gap between workers in seasonal work is (-33%) and casual work (-37%) compared to median earners. 

Social Security

Universal Credit has been one of the most significant social security reforms in recent decades. The government stated that in bringing together a group of six benefits, Universal Credit would reduce in-work poverty and simplify the system, making it easier for people to understand. But in reality, it’s a system that doesn’t deliver for the millions who need it. The TUC believes that Universal Credit is fundamentally flawed and needs to be reformed.

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.

We need an urgent economic reset and a government that will make work pay. Reducing child poverty must be a priority in the years ahead.

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