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30% of Britain's kids living below the poverty line

Charities and unions demand urgent government action

ALMOST a third of children in Britain are living in poverty, a damning study revealed yesterday.

The End Child Poverty coalition’s research, carried out by Loughborough University, found that 30 per cent of children live in households earning below 60 per cent of the median income.

More than half of children in some constituencies are living below that poverty line once housing costs are factored in, researchers found.

In its report, the coalition – made up of charities, trade unions and other civic-society groups – said that parts of London were home to the highest child-poverty rates in the country.

But the sharpest increases were in northern English cities and the Midlands.

In Middlesbrough and parts of Tyneside, child poverty rose by 10 per cent between 2014-15 and 2018-19 — the largest rise recorded in the study.

Birmingham had the highest child-poverty rate (42 per cent of children) outside the capital.

The coalition called for an urgent government plan to end child poverty including by uprating housing assistance in line with inflation and retaining the £20-per-week increase in universal credit (UC) launched during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It also called for an end to the benefit cap and two-child limit and backed extending free school meals to all families in receipt of UC and to those with no recourse to public funds.

The report includes a direct attack on Prime Minister Boris Johnson, noting that he has been rebuked by the government’s own Statistics Authority three times for making “incorrect statements” on child poverty.

End Child Poverty chairwoman Anna Feuchtwang said: “This new data reveals the true extent of the hardship experienced by families on low incomes — the overwhelming majority of which were working households before the pandemic. 

“The children affected are on a cliff edge and the pandemic will only sweep them further into danger. 

“The Prime Minister must urgently admit to the true extent of child poverty in our country rather than resorting to his own inaccurate statistics.”

National Education Union leaders Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney wrote to Mr Johnson yesterday, urging him to adopt the union’s own five-point plan to end child poverty.

It includes expanding the existing free-school-meals scheme and extending it to cover school holidays; reforming school-uniform policies and providing internet access for children in households surviving on UC benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions was approached for comment.

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