Stark Reality Of Child Poverty Rates Under The Conservatives, Explained

Rishi Sunak has claimed the Tories have "overseen a fall in child poverty" since 2010. Have they?
Rishi Sunak said the Tories have "overseen a fall in poverty" since 2010.
Rishi Sunak said the Tories have "overseen a fall in poverty" since 2010.
TOBY MELVILLE via Getty Images

PM Rishi Sunak has repeatedly claimed the Conservatives have brought down child poverty rates over the last 14 years.

On Monday, he said the Tories have “overseen a fall in poverty, but particularly child poverty, since 2010”.

But, just how true is this claim?

What measure is Sunak actually referring to?

It’s not clear – the PM could be talking about relative or absolute poverty.

According to fact-checking organisation, Full Fact, relative poverty is the number of people in households where the income falls below 60% of the national median average for the year.

Meanwhile, absolute poverty refers to those in households where the income is below 60% of the average median level in 2010/11, adjusted for inflation.

Has child poverty actually fallen?

The number of children in relative poverty has actually increased from 20% in 2009/10 to 22% in 2022/23 before housing costs.

After housing costs, it also increased from 29% to 30% across the Conservatives’ time in office.

This has actually fallen since the Tories took over – so it’s probably this stat the PM is referring to.

The proportion of children in absolute poverty has dropped by one percentage point since 2009/2010, from 19% to 18% (before housing costs).

After housing costs, it has still fallen from 28% to 25%.

What else do we know about child poverty rates in the UK?

Even though the absolute poverty statistics appear promising, there are other statistics which paint a much bleaker picture.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation claimed in October that destitution in the UK has increased by 148% since 2017.

Destitution is when people are unable to afford “to meet their most basic physical needs to stay warm, dry, clean and fed”.

The charity found that between 2022 and 2023, a million children experienced destitution.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times Rich List reportedly found the wealthiest 250 families in the world increased their wealth by £44 billion in 2023.

But, perhaps the most damning depiction of child poverty increases comes from a graph produced by Intergenerational Foundation.

It recorded the percentage reduction or increase in child poverty rates for 39 OECD and EU states between 2014 and 2021.

The UK comes up top in terms of taking more children into poverty, with a shocking 20% increase – miles more than any of its neighbours – during that seven-year period.

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