Commission reveals huge number of poor children live in cold, damp homes

29 October 2013

Over half of all children in the UK who say they are in poverty[1] are living in homes that are too cold and a quarter live in damp or mould-ridden conditions, a new The Children’s Society report today reveals.

Half of all children surveyed said they thought child poverty had increased over the last decade. Nearly half (41%) felt it would get worse over the next 10 years.

Through Young Eyes (full reportsummary), a survey of almost 2,000 children, gives the most up-to-date snapshot of how children are affected by poverty in the UK today, as well as their expectations for the future.

The report is being released to mark the launch of the first-ever Children’s Commission on Poverty - a unique opportunity for children to join forces and closely examine for themselves, the stark realities facing thousands of families living under the poverty line.

Supported by The Children’s Society, a panel of 15 children and teenagers from across England, ranging in age from 12 to 19, will lead the Commission’s 18-month investigation into child poverty in the UK. The Commission will provide a crucial platform for children to speak out about what poverty is really like and reveal, through their own eyes, the day-to-day challenges they face and what needs to be done.

The proportion of children in poverty has nearly doubled in the last 30 years. Six in 10 children living in poverty are in low-income working families.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society said:

'For millions of children up and down the country, poverty is a grinding reality - and it is getting worse. Many families are facing stark and unacceptable choices, like heat or eat. This is disgraceful in any country - especially in one of the world’s richest. Yet their voices are being left out of the debate. That is about to change.

'The launch of The Children’s Commission marks a major milestone in the debate around child poverty in this country. For the first time it is being driven by children themselves, who will show us, through their own eyes, what it looks and feels like to be in poverty.'

Yousif, 16, a young Commission panel member said:

'Child poverty is one of the gravest injustices to face the UK and we on the young people’s panel, have gathered together to help combat it. We are here to fight this injustice.  Simple as that.'

The Children’s Commission on Poverty is being launched:

• Tuesday, 29 October 2013; 9.00-10.30am
• The Churchill Dining Room, The House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, Cromwell Green entrance
• RSVP: Beth Herzfeld, 020 7841 4422 or email beth.herzfeld@childrenssociety.org.uk

Media enquiries:

To attend the launch, for more information or for photos on the day, please contact Beth Herzfeld in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or 07775 812 357 or email beth.herzfeld@childrenssociety.org.uk  For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editors:

  • According to the latest official statistics, there are 3.5 million children in poverty. Figures are according to the relative low income measure, and are based on income after housing costs.
  • For more about The Children’s Commission on Poverty see www.childrenscommission.org.uk
  • Through Young Eyes report summary and full version
  • By 2020, an estimated three quarters of a million more children will be living in poverty than today.
  • The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life. Someone who acts on their behalf and can help guide them through the extremely complex system. These children deserve to be kept safe so they can recover from the trauma they have suffered and rebuild their lives.