A sad child with its mother

More than half of children now living in poverty in some parts of the UK

The End Child Poverty coalition has today (Wednesday 24 January) published a new Child Poverty map of the UK, using data compiled by Loughborough University.

The new figures reveal that there are now constituencies within the UK where more than half of children are growing up in poverty - compared to one in ten, in the areas with the lowest child poverty rates.

The figures also show that some of the most deprived areas of the UK have seen the biggest increases in child poverty since the coalition's last local child poverty figures for December 2015. Increases of 10 percentage points* in some areas demonstrate the growing crisis of child poverty in the UK. 

As price rises risk pushing ever larger numbers of children below the poverty line, the coalition is calling on the Chancellor to end the freeze on children's benefits – currently in place until the end of the decade – so that families no longer see living standards squeezed as prices rise.

The local child poverty estimates are broken down by parliamentary constituency, local authority and ward. Child poverty is the highest in large cities, particularly in London, Birmingham and Manchester.  Among the twenty parliamentary constituencies with the highest levels of childhood poverty, seven are located in London, three in Birmingham, and three in Manchester. In addition, Leicester now has the eighth highest child poverty rate among local authorities, with more than four in ten children classified as being in poverty.

The data was compiled and analysed by Loughborough’s Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP). CRSP is an independent research centre based in the University’s School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences. Its biggest role at present is setting a Minimum Income Standard for the UK.

Since the introduction of the benefit freeze, the coalition of charities, faith groups and unions has warned that as prices rise, low income families would find it increasingly hard to pay for the same basic essentials.

“It is scandalous that a child born in some parts of the UK now has a greater chance of growing up in poverty, than being in a family above the breadline”, said Sam Royston, Chair of End Child Poverty and Director of Policy and Research at the Children’s Society. “There can be little doubt that the Government’s policy of maintaining the benefits freeze despite rising prices is a major contributor to the emerging child poverty crisis.”

Professor Donald Hirsch, Director of CRSP added: “After a period in which child poverty fell, it is now rising steeply. It is forecast to increase faster than other forms of poverty, because families with children rely heavily on help from the Government, even when they are in work, through benefits and tax credits which are facing severe cuts.

“Our research draws attention to the particular problems that this is creating in the most deprived areas, where these cuts have hit hardest. Although many of these are in the big conurbations such as London and Greater Manchester, East Midlands cities are also being badly hit, especially Leicester, where local concentrations of child poverty have been getting worse.”

The coalition is also concerned that the impact of poverty may be exacerbated by a poverty premium - which means that low income families can face paying as much as £1700 per year more than better off families, to buy the same essential goods and services. A major contributor to this is the high cost of credit for low income families, and the coalition wants to see the Government address this by providing better access to interest free credit.

Sam Royston said: “No family in modern Britain should be struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes and clothe their children. End Child Poverty is calling on the Chancellor to end the freeze on children's benefits, and to invest in interest free credit for low income families, to ensure that poverty doesn't result in spiralling debt.”

Table 1 Top 25 parliamentary constituencies with highest levels of child poverty across the UK


% of children in poverty 2017

(after housing costs)

1. Bethnal Green and Bow


2. Birmingham, Ladywood


3. Poplar and Limehouse


4. Birmingham, Hodge Hill


5. Manchester, Gorton


6. Birmingham, Hall Green


7. Manchester Central


8. Bradford West


9. Bradford East


10. Oldham West and Royton


11. Edmonton


12. Glasgow Central


13. Blackley and Broughton


14. Leicester South


15. Westminster North


16. Newcastle upon Tyne Central


17. East Ham


18. Holborn and St Pancras


19. Leeds Central


20. Hackney South and Shoreditch


21. Birmingham, Perry Barr


22. Blackburn


23. Tottenham


24. Walsall South


25. West Ham



Table 2 Top 25 local authorities with highest levels of child poverty across the UK

Local authority

% of children in poverty 2017

(after housing costs)

1. Tower Hamlets


2. Manchester


3. Newham


4. Birmingham


5. Hackney


6. Westminster


7. Oldham


8. Leicester


9. Islington


10. Camden


11. Enfield


12. Blackburn with Darwen


13. Bradford


14. Middlesbrough


15. Nottingham


16. Barking and Dagenham


17. Haringey


18. Luton


19. Brent


20. Sandwell


21. Blackpool


22. Burnley


23. Walsall


24. Newcastle upon Tyne


25. Waltham Forest


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 18/16

(1)    Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via www.globelynx.com

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world to study sports-related subjects in the 2017 QS World University Rankings and top in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 6th in the Guardian University League Table 2018, 7th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018 and 10th in The UK Complete University Guide 2018. It was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

(2)    Percentage point increases. It is important to refer to the increases as percentage point increases, not as percentage increases. For example: 50 children in poverty out of 100 is a rate of 50% child poverty. If, the following year, there are 10 more children in poverty (a 20% increase), that means there are now 60 children in poverty. A rate of 60% up from 50%: a 10 percentage point increase.

(3)    In October 2016, the Office of Budget Responsibility confirmed that, on average, people will be worse off under Universal Credit than under tax credits (page 26) http://budgetresponsibility.org.uk/docs/dlm_uploads/Welfare-Trends-Report.pdf.  This follows controversial cuts to the work allowance (how much people can earn before Universal Credit entitlement starts to be tapered off) in the 2015 Summer Budget.

(4)    In January 2017 End Child Poverty published a report, http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/feeling-the-pinch-report/, which examined the squeeze on low income households of the benefit freeze and rising prices and poverty premium paid by low income families for basic goods and services. ECP estimated that lower income families can pay up to £1700 more per year than a higher income family for similar essential goods.

(5)    The figures presented here are estimates of child poverty in different areas, calculated using HMRC data and the Labour Force Survey. These estimates aren’t directly comparable with the HBAI figure of 3.9 million children in poverty in the UK, due to different methodologies and rounding. An explanatory note of how these estimates are produced is available http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/poverty-in-your-area-2018/

(6)    The local data has been produced to correspond as closely as possible to the measure of low income used by the Government in its regional and national data. However, direct comparisons between the two data sets should not be made (a full explanation of the methodology can be found on our website at http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/poverty-in-your-area-2018/)

(7)    A child is said to live in poverty if they are in a family living on less than 60% of median household income.  According to the latest official statistics 60% of median income (after housing costs) was around £248 per week. To find the relevant poverty line for a particular household type, this then needs to be adjusted to take account of household size.  For a couple with two children under 14 this means multiplying by 1.4 – giving a poverty line of £347 per week.

(8)    Children’s benefits include: child benefit, child tax credit and the child element of Universal Credit.

(9)    The End Child Poverty coalition (www.endchildpoverty.org.uk) is made up of nearly 100 organisations from civic society including children’s charities, child welfare organisations, social justice groups, faith groups, trade unions and others, united in our vision of a UK free of child poverty.