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Record number of UK children in poverty: figures

By AFP

March 21, 2024 11:15 PM


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More children are living in poverty across the United Kingdom than ever before, according to official government figures released Thursday.

Previous studies have shown that growing social inequalities in the G7 nation have hit children's health and rising numbers are forced to use food banks.

An estimated 4.33 million children were living in low-income households for the year to March 2023, the figures compiled by the Work and Pensions department showed.

That was up from 4.22 million the previous year and is above the high of 4.28 million recorded for the 12 months to March 2020.

"Today 4.3 million children are being failed. It is an outrage that 100,000 more children are in poverty. They are being forgotten," said Meghan Meek-O'Connor, of the charity Save the Children.

A household is considered to be in relative poverty if it is below 60 percent of the median income after housing costs.

The estimated total number of people in relative low income was at 14.35 million, down from 14.40 million the previous year, according to the figures.

The figures though showed a rise in absolute poverty -- another metric -- for the second year in a row, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

Some 600,000 more people, half of them children, were living in absolute poverty compared to the year before -- a total of almost 12 million people.

"The annual poverty figures published today confirm that the government failed to protect the most vulnerable from the cost-of-living crisis," said JRF chief analyst Peter Matejic.

He said that the fall in relative poverty was "largely due to the incomes of middle-income households falling, rather than people on the lowest incomes being better off".

The statistics show how steep energy price increases following Russia's invasion of Ukraine pushed more Britons into poverty.

The government said the figures came during a period of high inflation and said cost-of-living pressures on many families have now "eased".

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said the "biggest cost of living package in Europe, worth an average of £3,800 per household" had prevented more people from falling into poverty.


AFP


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