Section 2: Child Poverty

Understanding each measure of Child Poverty

In 2016, the Welfare Reform and Work Act abolished the Child Poverty Act, including the targets to reduce poverty and the measure of poverty based on family income. The government is now required only to report to parliament on the number of children living in workless households, and educational outcomes at GCSE level. However, after a campaign by the Child Poverty Action Group, the government agreed to commit to regularly publishing data on the number of children in poverty. The Poverty Fact Book includes 5 measures for Child Poverty:

  • Relative Child Poverty UK DWP official measure for the UK, before and after housing costs
  • Absolute Child Poverty UK DWP official measure for the UK, before and after housing costs
  • Leeds Child Poverty HMRC official Local Measure, before housing costs only
  • Leeds Child Poverty DWP proxy Local Measure, before housing costs only
  • Leeds Child Poverty End Child Poverty Coalition’s Localised Estimate, before and after housing costs

The headline figure for Child Poverty is the DWP’s Relative Child Poverty, after housing costs are deducted from income. The official local measure is the HMRC’s Children in low income families measure. The DWP and HMRC will soon be combining their figures to produce one official local estimate for child poverty. The End Child Poverty Coalition estimate is included because it is useful local estimate that can provide figures before and after housing costs have been deducted.

Child Poverty in the UK – Relative Child Poverty

The proportion of children living in households where income is less than 60% of median household income

Table 2.1

All dependent children under the age of 20 2017/18 2016/17 2007/08 2010/11 1 year change 10 year change
No of UK Children in Relative Poverty in BHC(m) 3.0m 2.7m 2.9m 2.3m +0.3m +0.1m
UK Children in Relative Poverty in the UK BHC % 22.0% 19.0% 23.0% 18.0%
No of UK Children in Relative Poverty AHC(m) 4.1m 4.1m 4.1m 3.6m 0.0 0.0
UK Children in Relative Poverty in the UK AHC % 30.0% 30.0% 31.0% 27.0%
Source: DWP, Households below average income (HBAI), March 2019

Latest figures show 3 million children experienced relative poverty before housing costs were deducted (BHC) during 2017/18 (22% of children in the UK), up by 300,000 children on the previous year, and 100,000 more children in poverty compared to 10 years ago.

Looking at relative poverty figures after housing costs (AHC) are deducted from income, there were 4.1 million children in relative poverty 2017/18 (30% of children in the UK). This is has shown no improvement on the figures from 2016/17 or 10 years ago.

Child Poverty in the UK – Absolute Child Poverty

The proportion of children living in households where income is less than 60 per cent of median household income in 2010/11 uprated by CPI inflation.

Table 2.2

All dependent children under the age of 20 2017/18 2016/17 2007/08 2010/11 1 year change 10 year change
No of UK Children in Absolute Poverty in BHC(m) 2.5m 2.2m 2.9m 2.3m +0.3m -0.4m
UK Children in Absolute Poverty in the UK BHC % 18.0% 16.0% 22.0% 18.0%
No of UK Children in Absolute Poverty AHC(m) 3.7m 3.5m 4.0m 3.6m +0.2m -0.3m
UK Children in Absolute Poverty in the UK AHC % 26.0% 26.0% 31.0% 27.0%
Source: DWP, Households below average income (HBAI), March 2019

Latest figures show 2.5 million children experienced absolute poverty during 2017/18 before housing costs (BHC) were deducted from income (18% of children in the UK). This figure has risen by 300,000 children in the last year. Looking at longer term trends, there has been a fall of 400,000 children being in poverty compared to 10 years ago.

Looking at absolute poverty figures after housing costs (AHC) are deducted from income, there were 3.7 million children in absolute poverty AHC during 2017/18 (26% of children in the UK), rising by 200,000 children since 2016/17. In the last 10 years, the figure has fallen by 300,000 children.

Children in working and workless households in relative poverty (UK estimates)

Table 2.3:

Economic status of household UK Total number of children Children in poverty BHC Children in poverty AHC
No % No %
At least one adult in work 12.1m 2.1m 17% 2.9m 24%
Workless households 1.7m 952,000 56% 1.2m 71%
Total number of children 13.8m 3.0m n/a 4.1m n/a
Source: DWP, Households below average income (HBAI), March 2019

A higher percentage of children in workless families are in poverty, compared to children in families where at least one adult is in work. In 2017/18, 71% of all children in workless families were in relative poverty AHC (affecting an estimated 1.2m children). In contrast, 24% of all children with at least one adult in work were in relative poverty (affecting an estimated 2.9m children).  When looking solely at the proportion of children in poverty, it can be seen that 2.1m out of 3m children in poverty are from a working family, this equates to 68% of children in poverty being from a working family before housing costs are deducted). After housing costs are deducted, 71% (2.9m out of 4.1m) of children in poverty are from working families.

Child Poverty in Leeds : HMRC’s Children in Low-Income Families Local Measure

HMRC’s Children in Low-Income Families Local Measure is the key local indicator for Child Poverty in Leeds. The measure shows the proportion of children living in families in receipt of out-of-work (means-tested) benefits or in receipt of tax credits where their reported income is less than 60 per cent of UK median income.  This measure provides a broad proxy for relative low-income child poverty as set out in the Child Poverty Act 2010 and enables analysis at a local level; however there is a three year time-lag. The proportion of children in poverty is calculated using population estimates from HMRC’s Child benefits data.

Table 2.4

All dependent children 0-19 2016 2015 2014 Annual Change

2015-16

Total No of Leeds children under 20 167,110 164,910 163,815 +2,200
No of children in Low income families Leeds 33,485 31,735 37,195 +1,750
Leeds Rate 20.0% 19.2% 22.7% +0.8
No of children in Low income families England 1,974,035 1,929,290 2,315,765 +44,745
England Rate 17.0% 16.6% 19.9% +0.4
Children 0-15 2016 2015 2014 Annual Change

2015-16

Total No of Leeds children under 16 146,155 143,290 141,725 +2,865
No of children in Low income families Leeds 29,660 28,150 32,805 +1,510
Leeds Rate 20.3% 19.6% 23.1% +0.7
No of children in Low income families England 1,707,835 1,678,035 2,003,060 +29,800
England Rate 17.0% 16.8% 20.1% +0.2
Source HMRC Children in Low-Income Families Dec 2018

In Leeds, 20% of all dependent children under the age of 20 (33,485 children) lived in poverty in 2016, compared to 17% (1.97m children) in England.

With regards children under the age of 16 in Leeds, 20.3% (29,660 children) were in poverty in 2016, compared to 17% (1.7m children) in England.

Child Poverty in Leeds DWP’s Children in out-of-work benefit households Measure

DWP estimates the proportion of children living in families in receipt of out-of-work benefits. The out-of-work benefits are Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefit/Severe Disablement Allowance, Pension Credit, Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit. The proportion is calculated using the out-of-work benefits data and ONS mid-year population estimates.

Table 2.5

Children 0-18 2017 2016 2015 Annual change

2016-17

ONS mid-year estimates, Leeds under 19s 175,676 174,180 172,358 1,496
Leeds 27,620 28,440 29,310 -820
Leeds % 15.7% 16.3% 17.0% -0.6%
England 1,612,950 1,932,950 1,728,940 -320,000
England % 12.9% 15.5% 14.0% -2.7%
Children 0-15 2017 2016 2015 Annual Change

2016-17

ONS mid-year estimates, Leeds under 16s 150,447 148,436 145,903 +2,011
Leeds 25,060 25,710 26,400 -650
Leeds % 16.7% 17.3% 18.1% -0.7%
England 1,438,950 1,719,410 1,533,680 -280,460
England % 13.5% 16.3% 14.7% -2.8%
Source DWP Children in out-of-work benefit households, Dec 2018

In Leeds, 15.7% of children under the age of 19 (27,620 children) were estimated to live in poverty according to this measure, compared to 16.7% (1.4million children) in England.

16.7% of Leeds children under the age of 16 (25,060 children) were estimated to live in poverty according to this measure, compared to 13.5% (1.4million children) in England.

Child Poverty in Leeds – End Child Poverty Coalition Estimates

Table 2.6

Children in poverty BHC Children in poverty AHC
2017/18 Number of children 0-19 Proportion Number of children 0-19 Proportion
UK 3m 22% 4.1m 30%
Leeds 47,306 24.8% 56,104 29%
Source: Centre for Research in Social Policy, End Child Poverty Local estimates, May 2019

This data is published by the End Child Poverty coalition, and highlights how levels of child poverty vary across Britain.  Researchers from Loughborough University estimated the numbers of children locked in poverty in each constituency, ward and local authority area across Britain, showing that child poverty is rising particularly rapidly in parts of major cities. In Leeds the rate of child poverty for 2017/18 is estimated at 29% after housig costs are deducted, affecting 56,104 children under 20.

This estimate is available before and after housing costs are deducted and is designed to offer timely and localised estimates on Child Poverty and comparable to the national HBAI measure above.  The official Child Poverty rate for local areas is published by HMRC is only available before housing costs are deducted (See Table 2.4 above).

Free School Meals

The data in this table is a total of all school types – i.e. for state funded primary, secondary, special schools, Pupil Referral Units and Alternative Provision Academies and Free Schools. The data excludes all infant children who receive universal free school meals regardless of income.

Table 2.7

England Leeds England Change Leeds Change
2019 2018 2019 2018 2018-19 2018-19
Total Number of pupils 8,264,937 8,152,323 125,183 122,742 +112,614 +2,441
Number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals 1,275,473 1,106,495 22,755 15,395 +168,978 +7,360
Percentage known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals 15.4% 13.6% 18.2% 12.5% +1.8% +5.6%
Source: DfE Schools, pupils and their characteristics, Jun 2019

In January 2019, 22,755  (18.2%) of pupils in Leeds were eligible and claiming a free school meal. Nationally 15.4% were eligible and claiming.

According to Leeds City Council’s local data the uptake of free school meals in January 2019 was 79.4%. Please note that this figure represents all of Leeds’ local authority maintained schools but not all Acadameies in Leeds.

Entitlement to free school meals is determined by the receipt of income-related benefits. Since 1 April 2018, transistional protections have been in place which will continue to be in place during the roll out of Universal Credit. This has meant that pupils eligible for free school meals on or after 1 April 2018 retain their free school meals eligibility even if their circumstances change. The DfE state that this has been the main driver in the increase in the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals as pupils continue to become eligible but fewer pupils stop being eligible.

Further information on Child Poverty

Relative and Absolute Child Poverty UK DWP official measure for the UK

The DWP’s Household Below Average Income (HBAI) report contains the official headline measure for all poverty figures for the UK, in particular the number of children in low-income families at a national level.

The HBAI is based on data from the Family Resources Survey in which the sample sizes are insufficient for useful analysis at the local level. In HBAI, median household income is calculated using the entire income distribution. The HBAI low-income threshold is then calculated by taking 60 per cent of this median.

The measure represents dependent children under the age of 20. A dependent child is defined as an individual aged under 16 or an individual aged 16 to 19 years who is:

  • not married nor in a Civil Partnership nor living with a partner; and
  • living with parents; and
  • in full-time non-advanced education or in unwaged government training

HMRC and DWP Local Estimates

In order to produce a comparable figure for smaller geographies:

  • HMRC produce the Children in low income families measure and
  • DWP produce the Children in out-of-work benefit households data.

Both local indicators represent relative child poverty, before housing costs are deducted from income. There is no official local measure for child poverty after housing costs are deducted from income.

DWP and HMRC intend to combine their local releases – HMRC’s Children in low income families and DWP’s Children in out-of-work benefit households for joint release in 2019. The combined set of statistics will provide a more coherent picture of living standards for children by local area and reduce volatility in the measure of children in low-income families.

End Child Poverty Coalition Local Estimates

The Centre for Research in Social Policy produces annual estimates for the End Child Poverty Coalition of the number of children in poverty in each ward, local authority and parliamentary constituency in the UK. These estimates are not accurate counts of how many children are in poverty in each area. Rather, they use the latest local data available to give an indication of where child poverty is particularly high, and therefore where there need to be the strongest efforts to tackle it.

The local estimates use the local HMRC child poverty figures, and adjusts them to include in-work poverty for each local area, using assumptions from the HBAI poverty data. The End Child Poverty Coalition state that these figures should always be presented as estimates. The procedures used to create these estimates are described as ‘far from perfect’. However, the figures are stated to be closer to the true level of child poverty (defined as below 60% of median income) than the HMRC data unadjusted, and are the best estimates available.

Free School Meals

Free School Meals – in England in January 2019, children in state-funded schools were entitled to receive free school meals if a parent or carer were in receipt of any of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided they were not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and had an annual gross income of no more than £16,190, as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit – if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get).