RCPCH responds to local child poverty statistics

The End Child Poverty Coalition has published a new report which summarises the latest data on local child poverty after housing costs in the UK.
Document icon on blue background

This report found: 

  • Seven in ten children experiencing poverty are living in working households.
  • Local Authority data shows Tower Hamlets in London has the highest rate of child poverty – at 47.5% of all children in the borough living in poverty. 
  • For Westminster Constituencies, Birmingham constituencies have the highest levels of child poverty - with child poverty in Birmingham Ladywood at 54.6 %. Meaning over half of all children here are living in poverty. 
  • 44% of children in lone parent families are in poverty after housing costs. This is compared with just 25% of children in couple parent families. 
  • The poverty rate for children in families with three or more children was 42%, compared with 23% and 22% among children in families with one or two children, respectively.
  • The North East of England has the highest percentage of minority ethnic families living in poverty, with 64% of children in minority ethnic families experiencing poverty, compared with 33% of those in white families.
  • 22.2% of children in Northern Ireland are experiencing poverty, with rates as high as 28.5%, 27.6% and 26.3% in Belfast West, Belfast North, and Newry and Armagh constituencies respectively.
  • Across the whole of Wales 27.9% of children live in poverty after housing costs. When looking before housing costs a staggering 79.8% of children living in poverty live inworking households.
  • 24% of children across Scotland were still living in poverty prior to the full roll out of the new Scottish Child Payment.

In response to these statistics, RCPCH President Dr Camilla Kingdon said: 

Poverty has a devastating impact on children’s health and wellbeing and this report makes disturbing reading. Child poverty is an issue across the nations, but as is often the case there are areas which are more deprived than other, such as the North East and Midlands. I truly believe that we are failing these children. 

The health effects on children living in poverty is significant and often lifelong – whether that’s increased likelihood of respiratory problems, poor mental health, or obesity from poor nutrition. The health inequalities between these children and ones in more affluent areas are growing at an alarming rate. 

We don’t need to feel hopeless about this situation. Last year we saw child poverty fall in the UK for the first time in a number of years. This is credited as a temporary improvement from the £20 uplift to Universal Credit – showing how government intervention can make a difference. Now that these extra supports have been abandoned, we find ourselves back to square one, if not worse off. In the wake of a pandemic and in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis our government must act to protect children. We echo the calls of the End Child Poverty Coalition to put an end to the unfair and ineffective two-child limit benefit cap and provide further financial support to vulnerable children and their families. I am convinced we can act to change these depressing statistics.