What we stand for
Every day End Child Poverty members see the real impacts that poverty has on the daily lives of children.
- Government data shows 3.9 million children living in poverty (after housing costs) between April 2020 and April 2021, that is 27% of all children
- Nearly half of children in lone-parent families live in poverty, compared with 1 in 4 of those in families with two parents
- The child poverty rate for children in families with three or more children is almost twice as high as the rate for children in one- or two-child families (47% compared with 24%)
- 36% of children in poverty live in families with a youngest child aged under five, 28% in families with a child aged between five and ten, 26% in families where the youngest child is aged 11 to 15, and 25% in families where the youngest child is 16 to 18 years old
- Poverty puts pressure on struggling families, and undermines their ability to cope – research shows that in England, children in the most deprived decile were around 13 times more likely to be on a Child Protection Plan and over 10 times more likely to be looked after than a child in the least deprived decile
- Deaths during infancy are strongly associated with preterm birth, fetal growth restriction and congenital abnormalities, which disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged families in society. The risk of infant death increases with greater levels of maternal deprivation
- Children in Bangladeshi and Pakistani households were the most likely to live in low income and material deprivation out of all ethnic groups
- Every child should grow up with access to enough money to achieve a decent standard of living.
1.1 The government must address benefit levels so families receive the support they need.
Every family should be able to afford the essentials. Our social security system needs proper investment by government so that the safety net catches us all should we need it. When cost of living increases occur, benefit payments and earnings must always rise at the same rate. Families should receive their full entitlement and not have amounts deducted due to the two child limit, benefit cap or other deductions such as advance repayments or tax credit overpayments. All families who need support should be offered this irrespective of their immigration status.
The concept of money has been ingrained into my head to always be my first thought. Growing up, I didn’t have the luxury of buying something first and worrying about the money after. Ever since I could remember, I looked at the price on everything before I asked my parents to buy something for me. I knew at the age of 7 where to look for the price labels and I felt that £4.99 for a magazine was too much to ask for. I knew that if I asked for new school shoes today, I’d have to wait about a year for them to properly wear out before I could get a new pair. I’ve kept most of these money cautious habits even to this day.
My parents had moved to this country in search for a better life and while they were getting used to this transition and adjusting to new jobs, we weren’t as financially secure as we are now. This meant that money was particularly tight growing up. We had enough money to get by, but it wasn’t a lot. I never really noticed much because it was my ‘normal’ but there were small things such as putting water in shampoo bottles to make them last longer, or storing any leftover food to eat later rather than throwing it away, that made me realise that we had to be careful with the way we spent my family’s income. I am extremely privileged and grateful to have gradually come out of living under such financial stress, however not everyone has been as lucky as I have. This is why listening to everyone’s story, understanding everyone’s story and accepting everyone’s story is so vital. Every family and child should be offered extra financial support, if they need it.
From an End Child Poverty Youth Ambassador
1.2 The government must develop a family-focused strategy to support parents who are able to work
Parents are constrained in their employment choices due to the cost and availability of childcare. In 2021 the average cost of a part time nursery place for a child under 2 was £137.69 per week, or over £7,000 per year. In 99 per cent of local areas, the average price of a full time nursery place for a child under two is higher than the maximum costs supported through universal credit and the benefits system. Lone Parent families can even risk getting into more debt if working more hours, because of the high cost of childcare.
A family-focused employment strategy would ensure working parents can access at least 30 hours of fully available and funded free childcare from the time at which maternity or paternity pay ends, alongside extended schools which should provide comprehensive out-of-school and holiday childcare.
Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty. 75% of children growing up in poverty live in a household where at least one person works. A family-focused employment strategy would recognise that full-time work is not always suitable or appropriate for all parents (for example, for parents with a health condition, disability or young children). It should tackle low wage and insecure work, particularly in part-time and flexible roles which are often the best suited to parents with young children. The strategy should also ensure that paying parents the living wage is a mandatory obligation of all employers, alongside driving up pay and conditions, in order to ensure parents can escape in-work poverty.
1.3 Further financial support should be provided to families who are caring for a disabled child
Families who care for disabled children can face significant financial hardship. The costs associated with care needs amount to around £580 a month on average, with 1 in 4 families facing costs of over £1,000 per month. Yet the Carers Allowance benefit payment, for those giving regular care, pays the equivalent of just under £2 per hour.
1.4 The government must ensure locally managed funds are available to help to families in crisis.
Across Wales, the Discretionary Assistance Fund provides grants to households in an emergency and in extreme financial hardship. There should be a long term continuation of this scheme, and for the scheme to be flexible and responsive to the needs of families in crisis.
The Scottish Welfare Fund provides a much-needed for families. The current level of investment in the fund and the administration of the scheme still appears inadequate to maximise its potential as a dignified statutory alternative to food banks and other forms of charity aid. Additional resourcing should be allocated along with refreshed guidance to ensure all those eligible to apply for support are aware of and can access the fund.
In Northern Ireland families in an extreme, exceptional or crisis situation can apply for assistance from Discretionary Support in the form of an interest free loan or non-repayable grant. The government must be able to continue with its comprehensive review on the fund irrespective of the political situation.
From An End Child Poverty Coalition Youth Ambassador
Poverty is hard, but it is an extra kind of hard when you have a child with a disability. In my family we have three, my mother works multiple jobs to be able to work around the many hospital appointments and stays and I am a carer. Getting the equipment we need so my two year old sister can have a good quality of life is difficult. Everything made for disabilities is very expensive. The NHS does not provide much. I believe that only my sister’s Atom chair was paid for by the NHS which I am grateful for, but my mother fought for months in order to get it. We have to fight the NHS to get my sister a wheelchair, but they won’t supply one that works for her and the wait time is a long time. 10 months is a long time when you are only 2 and it is really hard to see her look at everyone else her age running around and she can’t play too.
We live in a house that is not accessible for my little sister, but because my family is so large (8 children) the council won’t provide any accessible housing for us to rent. The private market is almost impossible and we won’t be able to adapt anything we rent to her needs. So we are on our own with that, hopefully we can figure it out.
- Every child should live in a decent, secure, affordable and warm home.
2.1 The government must ensure families have a long term decent home by investing in social housing, ending no-fault evictions and by ensuring sure struggling families can afford their rent.
A decent home is one which is weatherproof, can be kept warm and is in a good state of repair. Yet In 2018 there were 1 million families with children living in non-decent housing in England, equivalent to 1.8 million children.
Temporary accommodation, where families are housed by local authorities when they face homelessness, can be particularly bad. In London families housed in this way faced toxic mould, cold temperatures, and a lack of adequate space. Often these placements are often far from temporary, with some families being housed in this way for several years.
I’m someone who gave everything into education. I see education as a fundamental instrument in my life. In fact it’s one of three factors for why I can say that my life does make sense, it’s why I’m still fighting. I had to move around a lot as certain areas it was unacceptable to keep up with the housing price that forced me to constantly move. I have moved from the South East to North East as it was much cheaper. As a default it has negatively impacted my education, I did not have full support in education therefore I failed my GCSEs. I was aware of the North and South divide, but I never thought that something like this would impact my life negatively, unfortunately I didn’t really have a choice based on the circumstances of life. There are more opportunities in the South than in the North in terms of education and jobs/career opportunities.
An End Child Poverty Youth Ambassador
2.2 The government must ensure families are able to afford to heat their homes
Expanding the Winter Fuel Payment criteria would ensure that it is automatically received by other low-income households, including working-age families with children. The government should also expand the Warm Home Discount Scheme so that the rebate is increased beyond the £150 consulted on, and so it is automatically received by everyone currently eligible. Currently many households with children are eligible as part of the broader group, but may not receive it as it is not an automatic payment and must be applied for.
2.3 The government must work alongside local authorities to ensure families have access to the basics needed for a home
Only 2% of social rented properties are let as furnished or partly furnished (i.e. floor coverings/curtains) in comparison to 29% of private rented properties. Families need access to the basic essentials including a bed, carpets, curtains and a fridge. Families should have access to funds to buy these goods themselves, or help could be provided via a properly functioning local authority scheme. Social landlords could also be encouraged to provide furnished accommodation.
- Every child should be able to thrive, learn and develop, regardless of their family income.
3.1 The government must ensure families can afford to buy the food needed for their children, to keep them healthy and help them grow.
In 2021 2.5 million children live in households that have experienced food insecurity. These levels are approximately 27% higher than before the pandemic began. In August 2021 2.3 million children had directly experienced food insecurity in the past month. This equals 11.6% of households with children and is 81% higher than August 2020.
3.2 Westminster government must provide funding to ensure local authorities and schools are able to address attainment gap between poorer students and their peers in every school
Too often children’s educational outcomes are hampered by living in poverty. Evidence shows that high quality early education is effective at improving children’s outcomes especially for the most disadvantaged children. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are already 11 months behind their peers when they start at primary school and evidence suggest that the gap has stated to widen. Gifted children from the most deprived families begin school on a par with gifted children facing least deprivation, but their performance falls away by the age of 16. In 2015, 33 per cent of children receiving free school meals obtained five or more good GCSEs, compared with 61 per cent of other children.
Yet failing children in the early years costs them and society. Inadequate support for early years care and education costs England more than £16 billion every year.
3.3 The government must ensure Free School Meals in England and Wales are extended to all children in families receiving Universal Credit. The government should consider extending this offer to children who are home-schooled. In Scotland the government must complete the promised rollout of universal free school meals to all primary pupils by August 2022 and extend provision to secondary school pupils where a parent or guardian is in receipt of universal credit or equivalent benefit.
Free school meals should be available so children can eat during their school day without worry. They can focus on learning, playing and fully participating in their education. Yet at least two in five school-age children in England, who are living below the poverty line, were not eligible for free school meals.
Across the UK, the earnings threshold for a child to qualify for free school meals is too low. Children in poverty who don’t qualify for free school meals typically come from working families who earn too much money to claim free school meals, but not enough to escape from the grip of poverty. Certain types of benefits also preclude access, such as working tax credits in England and Wales.
3.4 The government must ensure that schools are supported to remove all costs of participation. No child should ever be prevented from taking part in school activities by an inability to pay
All children should have access to an education which helps them develop the skills, knowledge and attributes needed for learning, life and work – however, living in a low-income household can affect how children and young people are able to access that education. Trips, uniforms, resources for learning in class and at home, clubs and activities, food, fun events, transport etc. are all school costs which are difficult or impossible to meet for families living in poverty. This can place barriers in the way of children’s participation and learning, it can risk income related exclusion and stigma and put pressure on already stretched family budgets.
- Every child in the UK should grow up free from the threat of poverty
- Westminster government must create a comprehensive roadmap for ending child poverty by focusing on the systemic causes of child poverty, via cross-departmental action and at all levels of government. This must include the monitoring of child poverty levels and setting targets for reduction. Where devolved nations have set their own targets, or are assigned targets under the national plan, Westminster government needs to provide resources to help meet these.
- The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 has sets out ambitious child poverty targets for Scotland. The Scottish government must now work to ensure that the targets within are maintained and that child poverty is below 18 per cent by 2023/24 and under 10 per cent by 2030.
- The Northern Ireland government has a child poverty strategy and action plan, but these must be updated and the Executive must meet its legal obligations to create an anti-poverty strategy.