28 Mar 2019

Responding to today’s Households Below Average Income Statistics, The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive, Nick Roseveare, said:

“It’s truly shameful that nearly a third of children are still living in poverty and these shocking figures call for an urgent Government response.

“Poverty has a devastating impact on children’s health and happiness and can dramatically reduce their life chances

“There has been no progress in tackling this appalling situation and these figures show an increase in the number of children trapped in poverty who are from working families.

“This is being fuelled by government welfare policies like the freeze to benefits and child tax credits, and cuts and delays under Universal Credit.

“Worryingly, our latest research reveals that emergency support for families in financial crisis has been slashed by cash-strapped councils.

“It’s vital that these figures act as a wake-up call for ministers and that the Government acts now to end the benefits freeze, address problems with Universal Credit and give councils a dedicated pot of funding to offer crisis support to struggling families.”

HBAI figures from the government show that in 2017/18:

  • 4.1 million children were living in relative poverty -  meaning they were excluded from the activities and opportunities enjoyed by the average person because their income was below 60% of the median household income in 2017/18 after housing costs.  This is the same as the figure reported in 2016/17.  In 2017/18, 2.8m children were living in ‘severe poverty’ because their income was below 50% of the median household income – up from 2.6m in 2016/17. (again a measure of relative poverty).
  • 3.7m children were living in absolute poverty – meaning their families could not afford basic needs like food and clothing because their income was 60% below the median as calculated back in 2010/11 after housing costs and inflation had been taken into account.  This is a measure of poverty that is constant over time.  The figure rose from 3.5m in 2016/17.
  • 70% of children in poverty were from families in which at least one parent was working, up from 67% in 2016/17.
  • Compared to the overall population, children remained more likely to be in poverty: 30% of children were in poverty compared to 20% of working age adults and 16% of pensioners.


Media enquiries

For more information, please contact Senior Media Officer Rob Devey on 07814 525918 or rob.devey@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.