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Record number of UK children in poverty branded ‘outrage’

The number of children living in poverty across the UK has hit a record high, with campaigners saying they are being failed and forgotten.

There were an estimated 4.33 million children in households in relative low income after housing costs in the year to March 2023.

This is up from 4.22 million the previous year and is above the previous high of 4.28 million in the year to March 2020.

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

A household is considered to be in relative poverty if it is below 60% of the median income after housing costs.

“Living in poverty means children miss out on opportunities and the activities that make childhood fun and support their development.”

Meghan Meek-O’Connor, senior child poverty policy adviser at Save the Children UK, said: “Today 4.3 million children are being failed. It is an outrage that 100,000 more children are in poverty – they are being forgotten.

“These shocking figures should be an urgent wake-up call to all of us, especially the UK government. We cannot go on like this. There is no reason children should be going without food, heating, toys, or beds.

“Families need an adequate social security system that keeps children out of poverty, and provides them with a basic level of safety and security.”

Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), said: “In a general election year, nothing should be more important to our political leaders than making things better for the country’s poorest kids.

“But child poverty has reached a record high, with 4.3 million kids now facing cold homes and empty tummies.”

These recent figures are the highest in the UK since 2002/03

Barnardo’s chief executive Lynn Perry said the statistics show “the government has let down children”, equating the 100,000 year-on-year rise to the population of Eastbourne.

She said: “Children can’t be happy and healthy if they are going to bed in a cold home, on an empty stomach.

“Living in poverty means children miss out on opportunities and the activities that make childhood fun and support their development.”

Calling on the government to “urgently focus on reducing child poverty”, she and the other campaigning organisations repeated demands to scrap the two-child limit on benefit payments and for an essentials guarantee to ensure households can cover basic costs such as food and household bills.

The estimated total number of people in relative low income was at 14.35 million in the year to March 2023, down from 14.40 million the previous year, according to official government figures.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said the government had “stepped in with the biggest cost-of-living package in Europe, worth an average of 3,800 per household”, which he said has “prevented 1.3 million people from falling into poverty in 2022/23”.

He added: “Our decisive action to more than halve inflation has allowed us to deliver tax cuts worth an average £900 a year – putting more money directly in the pockets of hardworking families.

“On top of this, we’re bringing in the biggest ever rise to the National Living Wage, so more people can achieve long-term financial security through work.

“We’re also going further in April, by uprating benefits and pensions to support millions of people on the lowest incomes and extending the Household Support Fund to provide vital support for those most in need.

“The plan is working, and we need to stick to it to deliver a brighter future and economic security for everyone.”


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