Families already living under the poverty line have been pushed deeper into poverty since 2012, new analysis from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) shows. The analysis also finds the number of children in poverty in households where all the parent(s) work full time – be they single or couple-parents – has doubled from 200,000 in 2012/13 to 400,000 in 2017/18.
The analysis of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) data shows the average ‘poverty gap’ – ie how far below the poverty line poor families are living – jumped by 30 per cent between 2012/13 and 2017/18 even after controlling for inflation. That means that after housing costs are taken into account, poor families are now on average £73 per week (28 per cent) below the poverty line, up from £56 in 2012/13.
Child Poverty Action Group Chief Executive Alison Garnham said: “We know that the number of children in poverty is rising – and at risk of reaching a record high – but poor families are also deeper in poverty than they were just seven years ago. That should sound alarm bells for a Government committed to ‘levelling up’ because it means families in poverty are further away from escaping it. Many of these families are living well below the poverty line. Their children are going without the basics of a good childhood with all the lost opportunities that brings for them and for our wider economy. Our new Government has committed to reducing child poverty. It must now bring forward clear policies for achieving this.”
While there is a tendency for the poverty gap, at any one time, to shrink when the poverty rate grows (because when people have just moved into poverty they are likely to have incomes relatively close to the poverty line), since 2012/13, both the poverty rate and poverty gap (before housing costs and after housing costs) have risen. So over the past five years more children have been pushed into poverty, while those in poverty are further away from escaping it.
The poverty gap is consistently higher for couple-households compared to lone parents, although since 2013 the poverty gap for lone parents has risen by 36 per cent, reducing the difference considerably. This is unsurprising perhaps given that since 2013 benefits have been cut in real terms causing particularly heavy losses for lone parents who derive a higher share of their income from benefits.
The analysis also shows that the poverty gap after housing costs grew between 2012/13 to 2017/18 for all family types who are poor – for couples where both partners work , where one partner and neither partner works and for lone parents whether they work or not.
There are 4.1 million children in relative poverty (after housing costs) in the UK today. This is up from 3.6 million in 2011/12 and 2.1 million families in poverty today.
Nearly 3 million poor children have parents in some form of work; there are 400,000 children in poverty where all parent(s) in the household work full-time. These households are a mixture of lone parent families and couple-families.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies projects that 5.2 million children will be in poverty by 2022.
Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.