Child poverty becoming ‘new normal’ and rising rapidly in major cities, study suggests

Child poverty is becoming the “new normal” in parts of the country and rising rapidly in major cities, a new study suggests.

Research by the End Child Poverty coalition 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.

The Government was urged to take measures including reversing cuts to children’s services and reforming Universal Credit.

Anna Feuchtwang (pictured), 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 Government’s own data shows that child poverty in the UK has been rising steadily in recent years.

“Growing up in poverty means growing up trapped. It restricts a child’s chances of doing well at school, of living a healthy and happy life, and of finding well-paid work as adults. We urgently need Government to set a course of action that will free our children from the grip of poverty.”

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, said: “Here in the UK, we believe that every child should have the best start in life. So it’s wrong that in many communities across the country, more than half of children are now growing up in poverty, as families are squeezed by low wages, high rents, and inadequate benefits.

“One of the main drivers of rising poverty is the two-child 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.”

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