Child poverty is now so widespread that it is becoming the ‘new normal’ in parts of the country, a new study suggests. The problem is rising rapidly in major cities, according to Research by the End Child Poverty coalition, which indicated that more than half of children were ‘trapped’ in poverty in some areas. The problem was worst in cities such as London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester, said the report.
Part of the problem is cuts to children’s services and the introduction of Universal Credit, they said. Anna Feuchtwang, who chairs the End Child Poverty coalition, said: ‘We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs, and we know that work alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.
‘Yet in many areas, growing up in poverty is not the exception, it’s the rule, with more children expected to get swept up in poverty in the coming years, with serious consequences for their life chances. ‘Policymakers can no longer deny the depth of the problem or abandon entire areas to rising poverty. The Government must respond with a credible child poverty-reduction strategy.’
The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, said: ‘One of the main drivers of rising poverty is the two-child [benefit] limit, which takes support from families when they need it most, locking kids in poverty during the most crucial years of their lives. ‘Our government can reverse the two-child limit and help all children to thrive.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘This study is based on estimates rather than actual measurements of income. Children growing up in working households are five times less likely to be in relative poverty, which is why we are supporting families to improve their lives through work. ‘And statistics show employment is at a joint record high, wages are outstripping inflation and income inequality and absolute poverty are lower than in 2010. ‘But we recognise some families need more support.
That is why we continue to spend £95 billion a year on working-age benefits and provide free school meals to more than one million of the country’s most disadvantaged children to ensure every child has the best start in life.’