Save the Children reports that the number of children living in severe poverty in the UK has increased to 1.7 million, which is an increase of 260,000 since 2004. One fifth of these children live in London. This claim is based on a policy briefing, Measuring severe child poverty in the UK, commissioned by them from the New Policy Institute. This used an indicator of an income of less than £12,200 per year, after housing costs, for a family of two adults and one child as a measure of severe poverty, although it acknowledges there is currently no official measure of severe child poverty.
According to Save the Children, 4 million children live in poverty in the UK. They claim that 55% of families earning less than £12,000 or less a year will have to borrow from high interest lenders to get through the winter.
The policy briefing lists a number of risk factors associated with child poverty, that are heightened for severe child poverty, including:
- living in workless households
- parents with low educational attainment
- single parent households.
It outlines a number of recommendations to be implemented if child poverty is to be eradicated by the government's target date of 2020. These include incentivising schools to raise the attainment of the poorest children, and making sure that school funding targets those children most in need.
Save the Children reports that it welcomes the Child Poverty Bill, particularly on the basis that it is UK-wide, and involves consultation with children, but argues that certain policy measures should be strengthened. The web page outlines measures which the organisation is lobbying the Government to adopt, to help lessen levels of debt for low income families, and thus reduce severe child poverty.
The findings of the Save the Children research are published at the same time as the report of the National Equality Panel, An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK, which finds that inequalities in earnings and incomes are high in Britain, both compared with other industrialised countries, and with the situation 30 years ago.
In 2008, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation also published a literature review, The costs of child poverty for individuals and society. A review of this will be available on the TTRB soon.
Media studies students in particular may find it useful to consult the Joseph Rowntree Foundation site, as it has a document on the mythology of poverty, as well as a section on poverty facts and figures.
The Child Poverty Bill is also at its final stages of publication at the time of writing, and the TTRB will provide a review of it and the implications for thinking and practice in due course.