London child poverty rates still highest in the country and rising

London child poverty rates still highest in the country and rising

The capital’s child poverty rate has risen and remains the highest of any UK region, according to national figures published by the End Child Poverty coalition of charities.

Research compiled for the group by Loughborough University for the year 2018/19 – preceding of the onset of the pandemic – found that the percentage of London children in households with incomes below 60% of the national median had increased to 39% compared with 37% for the previous twelve month period.

London dominates the lists of local rates, which factor in housing costs, with London boroughs taking the top 11 places and 14 of the top 20 local authority areas nationwide.

The country’s highest rate is in Tower Hamlets at 55.4%, followed by Newham (50.3%), Barking & Dagenham (49.9%), Hackney (48.0%), Waltham Forest (47.4%), Southwark (44.3%), Islington (43.4%), Greenwich (43.2%), Lambeth (43%), Haringey (42.4%) and Lewisham (42.0%).

The next nine highest local authority area rates include those of three other London boroughs: Redbridge (41.3%); Brent (40.8%) and Hounslow (40.8%).

When compiled according to parliamentary constituency, London again dominates, with Bethnal Green & Bow, which lies within Tower Hamlets, topping the list with a rate of 60.6%. Under these categorisations, Birmingham too features prominently, with three of its constituencies among those with the five highest rates. West Ham constituency has the fourth highest at 52.5%.

Positions six to 14 are all taken by London seats: Poplar & Limehouse (52.4%); Hackney South & Shoreditch (52.0%); East Ham (51.3%); Walthamstow (50.8%); Barking (50.8%); Bermondsey & Old Southwark (50.3%); Tottenham (50.2%); Vauxhall (49.7%); and Mitcham & Morden (48.5%). The 11th and lowest-placed London seat in the national top 20 is Holborn & StPancras (47.9%).

The figures demonstrate the enormous effect on living standards of the capital’s high housing costs. The researchers found that if these were removed from the calculations, the child poverty rate in Bethnal Green & Bow constituency would be halved to 30% and in Hackney South & Shoreditch by any even larger proportion, to 24%.

The research shows that the rise in housing costs in some other parts of England in relation to incomes have contributed significantly to their generally lower child poverty rates increasing more quickly than London’s between 2014/15 and 2018/19 by these measures.

Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, which is a member of the coalition, said the new data show that “our capital has the highest concentration of children in poverty in the UK, and rising. That should be a wake-up call for government as we enter a coronavirus recession.

The research findings, commissioned by End Child Poverty, were derived from statistics published in March by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Loughborough research team’s estimates of the effect of housing costs, based on survey evidence.

The charities are urging the government to link housing costs support to inflation, retain the increase in Universal Credit introduced at the start of the pandemic, increase child benefit across the board and extend the reach of free school meals.

For more detail on child poverty rates across the UK in recent year’s consult End Child Poverty’s exhaustive graphic. Photograph from End Child Poverty Twitter.

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