The child poverty crisis was spotlighted during the early weeks of the pandemic when the most vulnerable in society were left virtually defenseless against the virus. It gained further widespread, national attention when Marcus Rashford MBE campaigned to end child food poverty last year and extend the free school meal voucher scheme. We are taking an in-depth look at the child poverty pandemic in the UK and what you can do to help.
What is child poverty?
Child poverty refers to poor children, children from low-income families, or orphans who are reared with few or no resources. Children who do not meet the nation's minimum acceptable standard are considered poor. These requirements are low in developing countries. When extreme child hunger is combined with an increase in the number of orphans, the situation becomes even worse. The benefits system in the United Kingdom is in place to function as a safety net for persons who are out of work or earn inadequate money. The reality is that these benefits are rarely sufficient to meet these people's requirements, hurting their families and forcing them to live below the poverty line.
In the United Kingdom, a child is regarded to be growing up in poverty if they live in a household with a monthly income of 60% of the average (median) income in a particular year. Before the epidemic, 4.3 million children in the UK lived in poverty, up to 200,000 from the previous year and 500,000 in the last five years. That equates to 31% of all children.
Child poverty statistics
Here are the facts and figures that show the reality of child poverty in the UK.
- In 2019-20, 4.3 million children were living in poverty in the United Kingdom. That's 31% of the youngsters or nine in a class of 30.
- Poverty affects 49% of children living in single-parent households. Due to the lack of a second earner, low rates of maintenance payments, gender imbalance in employment and pay, and childcare expenditures, lone parents are at a higher risk of poverty.
- Children from minority ethnic groups or from blacks are more likely to be poor: 46% are now poor, compared to 26% of children from White British homes.
- In the United Kingdom, work is not a sure way out of poverty. In a household where at least one member works, 75% of children grow up in poverty.
- Youngsters in large families are considerably more likely to be poor — 47% of children living in homes with three or more children are poor.
- Childcare and housing are two of the most expensive expenses for families.
- Reduced child poverty was prioritised between 1998 and 2003, with a comprehensive plan and investment in children, and the number of children in poverty was reduced by 600,000.
- Removing the two-child limit and the assistance limitation would lift hundreds of thousands of youngsters out of poverty.
- Increasing child benefits would significantly reduce child poverty while also assisting all families with the additional costs that children bring.
How food poverty contributes to child poverty in the United Kingdom
The rate of food insecurity in the UK is among the highest in Europe. People living in food poverty either do not have enough money to purchase nutritious food, struggle to obtain it because it is not easily accessible in their neighbourhood, or both.
Children living in food poverty are the result of being born in low financial households. This could be for a variety of reasons including unemployment or low-paying occupations, a lack of education, government policies, impairments, and discrimination. When a parent lacks the necessary resources, such as a regular discretionary income, to raise a child, the child's well-being faces challenges.
Other factors contributing to child food poverty include teen pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy, an increase in the number of single parents (a child raised by a single parent is more likely to live in poverty than a child raised by a couple), and insufficient benefits.
How can we make a difference?
- Encourage the government through petitions and campaigns to increase the income of households in the UK that fall below the poverty line.
- Encourage dialogue. Without dialogue, we cannot have the necessary conversations needed.
- Improve early childhood (pre-school) education.
- Primary and secondary education should be improved.
- Better commitment and leadership.
Doctor A’s contribution to help end child poverty
Doctor A Cosmetics is a skincare brand on a mission to change the world. As an eco-friendly, clean, give back skincare brand, our social conscious drives everything we do, from encouraging diversity within the beauty industry to supporting social campaigns through our charity partner.
Tackling child poverty is one of the social issues at the heart of our ‘Give Back Beauty’ campaign. We are supporting the work of the Anika Food Charity, established by our founder, that acts as a baby and food bank. Anika Food Charity provides necessary essentials and food to those who need it. Anika Food Charity also campaigns on widespread social causes related to food poverty, food wastage, food insecurity such as domestic violence, period poverty, mental health, and homelessness.
You can support Anika Food Charity’s campaign on food wastage here: https://www.change.org/p/boris-johnson-end-food-wastage-in-the-united-kingdom
Doctor A Cosmetics is proud to donate 5% of our annual profits to Anika Food Charity to help end child poverty in the UK.
In need of support?
Charities to contact that help deal with child poverty:
- Action for children
- Save the children
- Child poverty action group
- The Trussell Trust
- The Children’s society
- Children North East
Further reading- Doctor A book recommendations
- Breadline Britain: The Rise of Mass Poverty by Stewart Lansley
- Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain's Underclass by Darren McGarvey
- Hunger Pains: Life Inside Foodbank Britain by Kayleigh Garthwaite
- The New Poverty by Stephen Armstrong