The government just congratulated itself for its appalling record on child poverty

Theresa May Child
Steve Topple

On Wednesday 1 March, the government chose to ignore its own record on child poverty, instead opting to praise what it deemed a “success”. But the figures simply don’t add up.

Slow applause

The number of children living in working households has now hit its highest levels for a decade, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It said that 90% of children now live with a working adult, because:

  • Over 17.6 million households now have at least one working adult.
  • Less than 15% of households are classed as workless.

Also, the number of lone parents working rose to 67.9% in 2016, an increase of over 10% since 2010.

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green welcomed the figures. He said:

More parents now have the opportunity to find work and enjoy the dignity and security of having a regular wage. We will continue to build on this success as we roll-out Universal Credit to all parts of the country – ensuring that it always pays to be in work.

Meaningless statistics

But the government is conveniently ignoring the figures on child poverty (after housing costs):

  • The number of children in poverty increased by 200,000 in 2014-15 to 3.9 million. Or 28% of children.
  • 34% of children in poverty live in families with three or more children.
  • 66% of children in poverty live in a working household.

And on Tuesday 28 February, a study revealed that children living in the poorest areas of the UK were 10 times more likely to go into care.

The government’s own figures show that work is no route out of poverty. And while zero-hours contracts, the lack of a real living wage, and insecure employment all blight working age people, children will continue to suffer.

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