Almost one million children in 'food insecure' households

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

More than one in four children across the UK are living in poverty, with almost one million living in “food insecure” households – and the situation is set to worsen as inflation soars.

New household income figures have been published by the government covering the April 2020 to March 2021 period.

They show that the number of children living in relative poverty after housing costs in the UK stands at 3.9 million, down by 400,000 on the previous 4.3 million figure (DWP, 2022).

The new figure represents 27% of the UK’s children and compares to the 3.6 million children who were living in poverty in 2010/11.

Furthermore, the latest figures show that 22% of those living in poverty – around 900,000 children and young people – are in a household classified as “food insecure”.

Campaigners have been quick to point out that the decrease is a direct result of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit which was in place last year.

However, the uplift was controversially axed by chancellor Rishi Sunak in October last year and, as such, most of those 400,000 children will by now have been pushed back below the poverty line, especially considering the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, which has seen inflation rates hitting 8%.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “It looks like ministers have turned their backs on low-income families. Many of the children who were lifted out of poverty by the £20 increase to Universal Credit have already been forced back over the brink by the government’s actions. And as millions struggle with spiralling costs, we know the picture will worsen.”

CPAG is calling for an increase in benefits of 8% to match current rates of inflation. Currently, benefits are to increase only by 3.1%.

Mark Russell, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said the figures were “a stain on our nation”.

He added: “The looming cost of living crisis will undoubtedly make matters worse as more desperate families struggle to make ends meet. Some will face impossible choices between heating and eating. Compared to the overall population, children remain more likely to be in low-income households.

“This is unacceptable. The Spring Statement did not go far enough to help families facing the frightening prospect of rising prices and higher bills.

“There are measures that could be taken that would make a real difference, such as providing free school meals for all children whose families receive Universal Credit, and a £10 uplift in child benefit.

“We urge the government to commit to tackling child poverty as a top priority and to come up with a coherent long-term strategy to turn this shameful situation around.”

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