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Work not enough to stop children being trapped in poverty as number of children in severe poverty rises

  • 70% of children in poverty come from a working household
  • Of the 4.1 million children in poverty, those in severe poverty rises to 2.8 million
  • National and regional data published by Government.


More children in the UK are growing up in working families trapped in poverty. New Government data shows that, of the 4.1 million children in poverty overall, there has been an increase in the number of children caught in severe poverty to 2.8 million.

Of these, the number of children in poverty that come from a working household has risen from 58% in 2010/11 to 70% in 2017/18.

This is despite repeated claims by the Government that employment is the most effective means of tackling poverty and that current welfare reforms the best means of incentivising work.

End Child Poverty, a powerful coalition of organisations focused on improving living conditions for children, has consistently warned the Government that the benefit freeze, the introduction of universal credit and the imposition of the two-child limit is leading the dramatic increases in child poverty, restricting the life chances of children.

The Households Below Average Income data released by the Department for Work and Pensions today records the number of households in the UK falling into poverty. Poverty is defined as household income below 60% of median income and today’s figures show that once again the income of the poorest families has hardly risen since the mid-2000s.

Anna Feuchtwang, Chair of End Child Poverty and Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau said, “The DWP figures show an extraordinary direction of travel for a developed nation. We cannot ignore the fact that the incomes of the poorest families have hardly risen in the last ten years. The Government can no longer deny in-work poverty and must act to reverse those policies that have swept yet more children below the breadline. We know that poverty restricts the life chances of children, so the implications of this new data are stark. These children will have worse mental and physical health, will have shorter lives, will do less well in school and will have fewer opportunities in adulthood than their better off peers. End Child Poverty does not believe that this is something that the UK public is prepared to accept. The benefits system is an essential part of our public services and, as has been shown in the past, has been an effective means of lifting children out of poverty. It is time the Government ended the freeze on benefits and drew up ambitious child poverty reduction plans to avert the growing crisis in the UK of millions of children trapped by life-restricting poverty.”

Echoing the calls of End Child Poverty the Bishop of Durham said, “It is surely wrong, in a just and compassionate society, that so many children are growing up in poverty. It is particularly worrying that the numbers of children in severe and absolute poverty are both rising. The early years are crucial to a child’s development, so it is imperative that we do all that we can to support families to give their children a good start in life. That is why we are calling for an end to the two-child limit, as this policy will push even more children deeper into poverty over the next few years. We can and should redesign the welfare system around the needs of children.”

End Child Poverty is calling on all the major political Parties to develop an ambitious and coherent child poverty reduction strategy ahead of the next General Election. As a first step we are calling on the Chancellor to announce an end to the benefit freeze and a full reversal of the two-child limit in his November budget.



  1. For press inquiries and comment please contact the National Children’s Bureau press team: 07721 097033


  1. The Household Below Average Income figures for the period to 2017/18 are released today, 28 March 2018.


  1. 1 million children are now living in relative poverty in the UK (after housing costs are taken into account).


  1. Severe poverty is defined as households below 50% of the median income. Children in severe poverty has increased from 2.3 million in 2010/11 to 2.8 million in 2017/18


  1. End Child Poverty ( is a coalition of more than 70 organisations from UK civic society including children’s charities, child welfare organisations, social justice groups, faith groups and trade unions united in our vision of a UK free of child poverty.


  1. You can get in touch with the End Child Poverty coalition by emailing or on 07918 567577.


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