Child poverty: study shows fifth of UK children severely affected

Date: 18th October 2010
Category: Family Environment and Alternative Care, Disability, Basic Health and Welfare

A fifth of seven-year-olds in the UK live in "severe poverty" with both parents together earning less than half the average national income, a major report reveals.

The government-sponsored Millennium Cohort Study has tracked 14,000 children born at the start of the century to build a picture of how family circumstances determine a young person's education, health and happiness in Britain. The latest findings are from two years ago, when the children were seven years old.

The London University's Institute of Education researchers found that despite governments having spent billions to eliminate child poverty since 1999:

  • Almost one-fifth of seven-year-olds live in severe poverty - homes where the total income, including benefits, is less than £254 a week [this is an average among those surveyed]. The average income for families in the study was £563 a week, say researchers.
  • Almost three-quarters of children whose parents are of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin live in poverty - homes where the total income for a family with two children is under £330 a week. This is largely because of high unemployment rates for mothers and fathers, the researchers say.
  • Just over half (51%) of black seven-year-olds and just over a quarter of white seven-year-olds live in poverty, with three-fifths from these groups in single-parent families.
  • Seven-year-olds are most likely to live in poverty in the north-east (40%) and least likely in the south-west (22%). The figure for London was 36%.
  • Just under 7% of seven-year-olds living in poverty do not have two pairs of all-weather shoes, according to parents. Just under 50% do not get pocket money.