The biggest rises in UK child poverty over the last two years were in deprived areas, new figures described as “nothing short of a disgrace” reveal.
This interactive heat map, published on Wednesday by End Child Poverty, lays bare how hundreds of thousands of families often do not have enough money to clothe and feed their children.
Child poverty - covering those in a family living on less than 60% of median household income - is highest in large cities, particularly London, Birmingham and Manchester.
Shockingly, in four constituencies over 50% of all children are living in poverty - in London’s Bethnal Green and Bow, Birmingham Ladywood, Poplar and Limehouse, also London, and Birmingham Hodge Hill.
By contrast, Prime Minister Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency is also among those with the lowest level of child poverty in the country at just 13.6%.
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Gordon (both 9.2%) and North East Hampshire (10.3%) has the lowest level.
Many areas with a highest incidence of child poverty sit just miles from those on the opposite end of the scale, with Birmingham Ladywood (53.1%) having around four times the percentage of nearby leafy Sutton Coldfield (12.5%).
End Child Poverty blames the Government’s freeze on children’s benefits for the “growing” problem, saying it has left families unable to cope with price rises.
“It is scandalous that a child born in some parts of the UK now has a greater chance of growing up in poverty, than being in a family above the breadline,” said Sam Royston, chairman. ”There can be little doubt that the Government’s policy of maintaining the benefits freeze despite rising prices is a major contributor to the emerging child poverty crisis.”
Royston slammed the “poverty premium”, which sees low-income families paying as much as £1,700-per-year more than wealthy families to buy the same essential goods and services. This is largely calculated factoring in the high cost of credit for low income families.
“No family in modern Britain should be struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes and clothe their children,” said Royston. “End Child Poverty is calling on the Chancellor to end the freeze on children’s benefits, and to invest in interest free credit for low income families, to ensure that poverty doesn’t result in spiralling debt.”
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said poverty had a deep impact on children at schools.
She said: “These are shocking figures. It is nothing short of a disgrace that, in one of the wealthiest countries on earth, there are constituencies where more than half of children are growing up in poverty.
“Sadly, however, these figures will not come as a surprise to many of our members who see the disastrous effects of poverty on children and families every day. This includes a rising number of children coming to school tired and hungry because their parents cannot afford to provide meals at home.”
Bousted added: “We support calls for the Chancellor to immediately end the benefits freeze. For the Government to claim that it wants to boost opportunity and ‘social mobility’ while at the same time pursuing policies such as this which are increasing child poverty is nothing short of hypocrisy.”
Dalia Ben-Galim, of single parent campaign group Gingerbread, said: “Increasing levels of child poverty will continue to be the reality for many single parent families with the cost of living rising. ”
Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “It is a damning indictment of this Government’s policies that in some constituencies of the UK over half of children are living in poverty. Increasing child poverty is a direct result of this Government’s utter failure to tackle the increasing cost of living, stagnating wages and their slashing of social security support.”
Lib Dem Layla Moran, said: “This is an appalling indictment of a Tory Party that are failing to protect the most vulnerable in society.
“The gulf between children born in the richest and poorest families is widening, but Theresa May is more preoccupied with the gulf in her cabinet over Brexit.
“When we fail our children like this we fail as a society. The government must take action.”