Almost 40 per cent of children in the Greater London area were living in poverty even before the pandemic according to a new analysis that draws on government statistics and builds in the capital’s high housing costs.
In a report for the End Child Poverty coalition of campaigns, academics at Loughborough University find that London has the highest child poverty rate of any UK region and that 14 of the 20 English local authority areas with the highest percentages of children in poverty are in the capital, including the first eight on the list.
While the UK average child poverty rate is put at 31 per cent by this measure, that of Tower Hamlets is 55.8 per cent, followed by Newham with a 50 per cent rate and Barking & Dagenham with 48.1 per cent.
The next five highest rates are in Hackney (47.9 per cent), Waltham Forest (45.3 per cent), Southwark (43.1 per cent), Islington (42.7 per cent) and Lambeth (42.6 per cent). Greenwich, Hounslow, Haringey, Brent, Redbridge and Lewisham also feature among the 20 council areas with the highest child poverty rates.
The report’s figures are derived from the Children in Low Income Families government dataset produced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) published in March 2020 – the month the pandemic began – which estimates the percentage of children living in households whose income is below 60 per cent of the median.
As these statistics do not take local housing costs into account, the researchers have produced and factored in their own “after housing costs” calculation using local data on rents and house prices. They say this results in estimates “that are more sensitive to these costs across region and over time” and compensate for the government figures understating the impact of low income in areas such as London where housing costs are high, the researchers say.
Their calculations include data going back to 2014/15. The latest DWP and HMRC figures include the whole of the UK. Including higher housing costs
London’s overall child poverty rate is put at 38 per cent, with next highest found in the North East of England (37 per cent) the West Midlands (35 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber (33 per cent). The overall figure for England is 30 per cent, for Wales 31 per cent and for Scotland 24 per cent.
The greatest increases in child poverty rates between 2014/15 and 2019/20 were outside the capital, notably in the North East of England and also in Leicester, Bradford, Birmingham and Leeds, partly due to rent rises in the capital during that being slightly lower than elsewhere.
Anna Feuchtwang, chair of End Child Poverty, said that in the wake of the pandemic the government should “come up with a plan to tackle child poverty that includes a boost to children’s benefits” and urged an end to plans to reduce Universal Credit.
Photograph from Save The Children.
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