New research highlights child poverty as critical election issue

- Two thirds of new constituencies have at least a quarter of children living in poverty - Data shows strong correlation between constituencies with high rates of child poverty and the two-child limit - Coalition of over 120 organisations calls on all political parties to set out their plans on child poverty and to scrap the two-child limit

A staggering two-thirds (66%) of new constituencies for the General Election have at least a quarter of children living in poverty, reveals a new study by Loughborough University for the End Child Poverty Coalition.

Across the UK over 30% of children are in poverty – this equates to nine children in every classroom, highlighting a severe, widespread issue. The data also shows a strong correlation between constituencies with a high child poverty rate and the prevalence of the two-child limit.

The End Child Poverty Coalition also highlights that child poverty imposes a shocking annual cost of over £39 billion to the UK.1 This includes increased public service expenditures and lost economic output due to lower earnings potential among adults who grew up in impoverished conditions.

In a major intervention, the Coalition of over 120 organisations which includes the Child Poverty Action Group and Save the Children UK, warns all political parties that time is running out and they must prioritise child poverty in their campaigns with bold and decisive action. The Coalition wants to see all political parties commit to the removal of the two-child limit to benefit payments and the benefit cap.

Dr Juliet Stone, from the Centre for Research in Social Policy, at Loughborough, said: “Our analysis provides further evidence that policies, such as the two-child limit, are having a devastating impact on the living standards of low-income families across the UK.
“Many families affected are in work, with no straightforward way to increase their income, and children in lone parent families are especially vulnerable.  Removing the two-child limit, and other punitive policies such as the benefit cap, is crucial in ensuring that all children are able to live in households with enough income to allow a decent standard of living.”

Joseph Howes, CEO of Buttle UK and Chair of the End Child Poverty Coalition, said: "Child poverty is an urgent issue that demands decisive action. The data is undeniable – too many children are in a cycle of deprivation that affects their health, education, and future prospects.
“It is time to dismantle these barriers and the elections will provide a critical platform for committing to systemic changes to uplift families and give every child the opportunity to thrive."

Mark Russell, CEO of The Children’s Society said: “These figures show the scale of child poverty across the country, which is deeply damaging the lives and futures of a generation of children.  The UK is one of the richest countries in the world and it is a scandal that over 4 million children are living in poverty.
“Too many families can’t even afford the essentials, too many parents need food banks to put food on the table, and too many children are having their futures blighted by poverty. We passionately believe every child deserves the best start in life, and we need decisive action from political leaders to address rising child poverty.  The first steps the next government should take is scrapping the two child limit and the benefits cap – these together have had a catastrophic effect, pushing many more families into deep poverty"

Sara Ogilvie, director of policy, rights and advocacy at Child Poverty Action Group said: “Children won’t get a say in this election, yet child poverty is at a record high with kids in every corner of the country cut off from opportunities to thrive.
“Their well-being is the responsibility of every politician and should be a policy priority over the next few weeks and beyond. Children need all political leaders to commit to abolishing the two-child limit and to set out a plan for helping families to raise happy, healthy children with bright futures.  No trajectory for the UK looks good while more than 4 million children are in poverty.”

Grace, aged 20, a mother to a 2 year old child and a Youth Ambassador for the End Child Poverty Coalition who lives in the West Midlands said: "Poverty has been a huge burden on my life. My family experienced poverty and now I live in a low-income situation.
“I couldn’t afford flooring when I moved into my property, I couldn’t afford curtains, my privacy was taken away from me. I struggle to pay my bills due to the increase in inflation.  My daughter is now having to watch me struggle. I cannot afford to put her in childcare full time and give her the best quality of life and education.  I hope that all political parties realise that poverty is real and it’s hard. Everyone that is stuck in poverty feels like this horror is never going to end."

Region-specific data shows significant disparities: in the North East, 88.9% of constituencies have a child poverty rate over 25%, with Middlesbrough and Thornaby East being the most affected.

London and the North West also report high rates, spotlighting the uneven distribution of child poverty across the UK.

Read the report here