UK’s progress on fighting child poverty ‘in peril’.
New study has shown that 400,000 more children fell into poverty since 2013, raising fears they go without basics such as food.
The report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that four million children, who make up 30 per cent of all youngsters, now live in poverty across the UK.
300,000 pensioners have also fallen into poverty in the same period, according to the report.
Researchers said the rise in child poverty, which reverses a previous decades-long downwards trend, was down to a mixture of rising housing costs and lower state support for families.
Changes to tax credits and a freeze on benefits have contributed to soaring levels of financial hardship among families both in and out of work, according to the researchers.
Child poverty is known to be particularly serious in London. The report showed that in the capital, overcrowding – a measure of poverty – was far higher than elsewhere, with more than seven per cent of households living in too-small accommodation compared with three per cent across the whole of England.
Overall poverty was also found by researchers to be highest in London than anywhere else in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, with about 25 per cent of working-age adults in poverty.
In November, the Institute for Fiscal Studies forecast that child poverty will continue to rise until the end of this Parliament.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “These worrying figures suggest that we are at a turning point in our fight against poverty … This is a very real warning sign that our hard-fought progress is in peril.”
He added that record levels of employment are not leading to lower poverty, and that “crippling costs are squeezing budgets to breaking point.”
The groups with the highest rates of poverty were lone parent families and families with three or more children, with nearly half (46 per cent) of single parent families living in poverty.
A government spokesman told the BBC that since 2010, the figure for people living in absolute poverty – a measure that takes into account access to services as well as income – had dropped by 500,000.
He said: “We are spending an extra £4.2bn on pensioners, carers and disabled people next year, and continue to spend around £90bn a year supporting people of working age, including those who are out of work or on a low income.”