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Save the Children UK's statement in response to today’s HBAI (Household Below Average Income) Statistics

The DWP has today released its Households Below Average Income statistics, which show that 4.3 million children were living in relative after housing costs poverty in the UK in the financial year 2019/20. This is an increase from 4.1 million the previous year and amounts to 1 in 3 (31%) of children.

The figures are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020

  • Child poverty is highest in the early years. 36% of children in a household with the youngest child aged under five are in poverty (2.2m children)
  • Poverty rates are highest among children in Bangladeshi (68%) and Pakistani (53%) families
  • Three quarters (75%) of children in poverty lived in a working household
  • Nearly half (49%) of children in lone parent families are in poverty

Dan Paskins, UK Director at Save the Children said:

“It is deeply disheartening to see this rise in child poverty in the UK.  And because these statistics give a measure of child poverty pre-pandemic, they don’t even give us the full picture of the impact of Covid and potentially how much worse the situation will be for children in a year’s time.

Behind the statistics, there are too many families who struggle financially, day in and day out, with far reaching consequences for their children. Parents we work with tell us they’re having to go without meals or electricity just to make sure their children have food to eat. One mum told us she is burning candles because she cannot afford to pay for electricity. This just isn’t right.

The £20 uplift to universal credit was a vital helping hand and is likely to have helped prevent a surge in poverty through this crisis – but it is set to be taken away in September, just as the furlough scheme ends and more people will lose their jobs. Save the Children is urging the UK Government to keep this uplift for another year, to prevent plunging families into deeper dire straits amidst financial uncertainty.

History will judge how we handled this pandemic for our children. It has been an overwhelming and stressful time for families already struggling on a low income, and we cannot risk plunging even more families into poverty. These latest figures should be the catalyst that the Government needs to make supporting struggling families and giving every child the best possible start a priority right now.“