Number of children in poverty with working parents increased by 900,000 in past decade, analysis suggests

The number of children growing up in poverty despite having parents in work has increased by the equivalent of 1,350 a week over the past decade, new analysis of government figures suggests.

Research from the Trade Union Congress has found that the number of children living in low-income households with at least one parent in work has risen by 900,000 from 2010 to 2013.

Some 4.3 million children are growing up in poverty in the UK, according to the latest government figures from March. This is the highest level since records began over 20 years ago, and up from the previous high of 4.28 million in the year to March 2020.

The poverty line is classed as having a net household income of less than 60 per cent of the UK average, after housing costs.

Union says families are pushed into poverty by wage stagnation and real-term cuts to benefits (PA)
Union says families are pushed into poverty by wage stagnation and real-term cuts to benefits (PA)

Researchers at the Trade Union Congress (TUC) said that 69 per cent of all children in poverty have one parent or more who is in work. They said that a “toxic combination” of wage stagnation, rising insecure work and real-term cuts to benefits has had a “devastating impact” on families.

Previous analysis from Action for Children found that more than 300,000 families with children are living in poverty despite both parents being in full-time work.

Paul Carberry, chief executive at the children’s charity, said that the TUC analysis was “yet more evidence that for too many families facing hardship, work doesn’t pay - and hasn’t for a long time.”

The research comes as charity Crisis revealed that it has seen a 25 per cent increase in demand from people dealing with homelessness and housing crises over the past year.

In Merseyside, the number of people approaching Crisis’s frontline services increased by 39 per cent. In Birmingham, the rise was 35 per cent, and 44 per cent in Brent.

The charity said their service in Brent regularly saw homeless people queueing outside the door for help.

Katie Schmuecker, principal policy adviser at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “The UK’s deepening levels of poverty are utterly unacceptable. A million children experienced destitution - unable to stay dry, warm and fed - in a single year, and millions more are living in hardship.”

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Under the Conservatives, we have seen a huge rise in working households being pushed into poverty.

“We urgently need an economic reset and a government that will make work pay.”

Mr Carberry added: “These depressing figures mirror our own analysis last year which found an average low-income family, where every parent was already working full time, would need to squeeze in an extra 19 hours a week to escape the breadline - equivalent to working an eight-day week.

“We need an honest conversation about why so many children are growing up poor in this country and confront the myth that work alone is a passport out of poverty.”

Matt Downie, Crisis chief executive, said they were seeing “unprecedented numbers of people coming to them for help”.

A Conservative party spokesperson said that the Tory government had lifted 1.1 million people out of absolute poverty since 2010, including 100,000 children.

They added: “Work is the best route out of poverty, and thanks to our clear plan and bold action, there are nearly 4 million more people in work than when we entered office, wages have risen faster than prices for the past eleven consecutive months, and the National Living Wage we introduced has been boosted by 9.8 per cent this year to £11.44, a record two thirds of median earnings.”