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FACTBOX: Britain's hidden childhood poverty in figures

by Emma Batha | @emmabatha | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 10 February 2022 15:30 GMT

Men Unite and Hanley Town Football Club provide free meals to children and families during the school holidays, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Stoke-on-Trent, Britain October 26, 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine

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One in three children lives in poverty in Britain where rising costs have left many families facing hardship

By Emma Batha

LONDON, Feb 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Millions of children are growing up in poverty in Britain - one of the world's richest countries - as families struggle with soaring food prices, energy bills and housing costs.

With inflation at a 30-year high, children's charities want more support for low-income families facing increasing hardship amid a cost-of-living crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some facts:

- 4.3 million children, or nearly one in three, were living in poverty in 2019/2020, according to the latest available data. Charities say the nationwide figure will be higher now.

- The child poverty rate was 31% in 2019/2020, up from 27% in 2013/14.

- 75% of children growing up in poverty live in families where at least one person works.

- 46% of children from Black and minority ethnic groups live in poverty compared with 26% of children in white British families.

- 49% of children in lone-parent families are in poverty, in part due to higher childcare costs and lower earnings potential.

- Children in larger families are twice as likely to be poor as those from smaller families.

- 1.8 million children were growing up in very deep poverty even before the pandemic stuck   

- A million households - including 550,000 children - were estimated to have been destitute in 2019, up 35% since 2017.

- The cost of raising a child to the age of 18 is about £160,700 for a couple and £193,800 for a lone parent - up more than 3% since last year, says the Child Poverty Action Group.

- Britain has one of the world's most expensive childcare systems, with the average bill rising by 4%-5% in 2021.

- More than 1.74 million children in England were eligible for free school meals in January 2021, up 17.3% on January 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

- Children from lower-income families are developmentally a year behind better off children when they start school.

Sources: Child Poverty Action Group, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Coram Family and Childcare, Save the Children UK

Related stories:

UK cost-of-living crisis reveals 'hidden' child poverty

How will poor Britons weather a national insurance hike?

'Perfect storm': Poor Britons caught in cost-of-living squeeze

(Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.