Shockingly the main finding of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s annual report is that there are half a million more children suffering poverty since 20111/2012 following “a relentless rise in the number of working families struggling to make ends meet”.
This is of course a deep concern compounded as Brexit approaches and the economic uncertainties that goes with it.
The report states that the increase in poverty is almost entirely driven by in-work poverty.
The key points of the report are:
- One-and-a-half million people were living in destitution in the UK at some point during 2017, including 365,000 children.
- Overall, 7% of people in the UK are in persistent poverty – 4.6 million people. The highest rate of persistent poverty is among lone-parent families (24%), followed by single men without children (12%).
- Child poverty has been rising since 2011/12. 4.1 million children now live in poverty, a rise of 500,000 in the last five years. This is much faster than we would expect based on population growth: the total number of children has risen by 3%, while the number of children in poverty has risen by 15%.
- Nearly half of children in lone-parent families live in poverty (49%) compared with one in four of those in couple families (25%).
- Lone parents are much more likely to be low paid than parents in couples; just over half of working lone parents are low paid, compared with only 37% of second earners in couples and 21% of main earners in couples.
- The rise in in-work poverty over the last five years has been driven almost entirely by the increase in the poverty rate of working parents. A working parent is over one-and-a-half times more likely to be in poverty than a working non-parent.
- The poverty rate among working-age adults without children (who were not a focus of concerted action to reduce poverty) did not change between 1994/5 and 2004/5, and then rose until 2011/12 before falling to 2014/15.
- The recent rise in pensioner poverty has been primarily driven by increases in poverty among pensioners who rent. Poverty among pensioners in the private rented sector is now 36% (up from 27% in 2007/08). For social renters, poverty has risen from 20% to 31% since 2012/13.
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner has called for a halt to the roll-out of Universal Credit, stating in a blog post originally published in Huffington Post:
“The number of children in poverty in our country should shock every politician into action. We need to halt UC until children’s welfare can be guaranteed and to reverse the benefit changes that have had a negative impact on children. And we need to put in place programmes that offer early help and family support – Sure Start or family hubs that aim high and help those families to overcome the poverty that traps and limits so many aspects of their lives. If we don’t, we are denying millions of children the support the need and denying them a fair chance in life.”