New figures released today (19 May) show that even before the pandemic, London had more child poverty than any other UK region with 38% of the capital’s children below the poverty line once housing costs are taken into account, compared to 31% for the UK as a whole.
The research from Loughborough University for the End Child Poverty coalition shows fourteen of the 20 UK local authorities with the highest child poverty rates are in the capital.
While rates of child poverty have grown faster over the last five years in some areas outside the capital – notably the North East – and rents rose slightly less overall in London in that period than in the rest of the UK, the new data shows the heavy toll that the capital’s high housing costs take on family budgets – all of the 20 UK local authorities with the biggest difference between child poverty rates before and after housing costs are taken into account, are in London. In some London boroughs child poverty rates more than double once housing costs are accounted for.
The coalition is calling on the UK Government to recognise the scale of the problem and its impact on children’s lives and to create a credible plan to end child poverty which must include a commitment to increase child benefits. Given the extent to which families are already struggling, the planned £20 p/w cut to Universal Credit come October should also be revoked, with the support extended to those on the ‘legacy’ benefits system.
Anna Feuchtwang, Chair of the End Child Poverty Coalition said: “The figures speak for themselves – the situation for children couldn’t be starker. We all want to live in a society where children are supported to be the best they can be, but the reality is very different for too many.
“The UK Government can be in no doubt about the challenge it faces if it is serious about ‘levelling up’ parts of the country hardest hit by poverty. After the year we’ve all had, they owe it to our children to come up with a plan to tackle child poverty that includes a boost to children’s benefits. And they need to scrap plans to cut Universal Credit given parents and children are having a tough enough time as it is.”