DWP boss Amber Rudd just made a very misleading statement on child poverty

Amber Rudd
Support us and go ad-free

On 16 April, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) boss Amber Rudd appeared on BBC Five Live. She mentioned that she met with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation “just this week” to discuss child poverty. She then claimed “there are less children in poverty since 2010”. But this last statement is actually at odds with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s position.

Misleading?

Poverty statistics can be confusing. As Full Fact explained, child poverty can be measured by:

  • Relative poverty (means a person is “excluded from the activities and opportunities that the average person enjoys”).
  • Absolute poverty (means a person “cannot afford the basic needs of life—food, clothing, shelter and so on”).

You may not know which measure a politician is referring to when they speak, but the UK usually uses relative poverty. There is also the difference between numbers and statistics. Populations grow. As such, a figure going up could still mean the overall percentage of people in poverty has gone down.

According to official figures from 2011:

After housing costs were taken into consideration, the number of children living in relative poverty increased to 3.8m (29%). This represents a more modest fall of one per cent compared to the previous year.

On 9 April 2019, the BBC reported that:

In 1998-99, 34% of children in the UK were living in relative-poverty households.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Today, this proportion is 30%, which represents about 4.1 million children.

The same article included a graph from the DWP – Amber Rudd’s department. This graph shows that relative poverty dropped and then rose again over the course of successive Conservative governments:

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation

In a recent report, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said the following on child poverty:

Between 2010/11 and 2016/17, both the child poverty rate and the number of children in poverty in working families have risen more steeply than at any time in the last 20 years. The child poverty rate in working families rose by nearly 5 percentage points, to the highest level in two decades. The number of children in poverty in working families rose by 710,000. Two-thirds of this rise has taken place since 2013/14.

It points to several issues making the problem worse, including:

  • Unaffordable mortgages and rent. This last point has been made worse by housing benefit providing “less and less protection”.
  • Worsening conditions for lone parents.
  • The age of children (people with younger children are more likely to face issues that lead to poverty).
Misleading

Rudd’s claim that there are “there are less children in poverty since 2010” is demonstrably false. There are more children in poverty. She could argue that statistically, the number of children in poverty is similar, but even that figure shows a slight increase. It also ignores other obvious indicators of poverty, like the increase in foodbank use and families placed in temporary accommodation.

In the same interview, Rudd suggested she may have a run at becoming the next PM:

I’m not planning to run… I have kept the door slightly ajar, but I’m not committed to it at the moment.

The DWP boss may have met with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, but she sure doesn’t seem to have listened to them. Basically what you’d expect from a potential Tory leader.

The Canary contacted the DWP for comment but had not received a reply at the time of publication

Featured image via YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us