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Playground with frozen grass during winter in the UK.

Child poverty

Research, campaigns and opinion pieces on poverty, including how the benefits system, childcare system and high-quality jobs can reduce poverty.

Our mission

JRF aims to bring about change by offering routes out of poverty for families and their children. We’re working to make sure everyone has access to: 

Poverty rates

Child poverty rates are higher than poverty rates for both working-age and pension-age adults, so addressing child poverty is a crucial part of solving poverty in the UK.

Despite living in one of the richest countries in the world, around 3 in 10 children (4.3 million children across the UK) live in poverty. This not only inflicts hardship on children in their formative years, but also has a long-term impact on their future health, wellbeing and economic prospects. Children also face a higher risk of deeper and more persistent poverty (living in poverty for a prolonged period of time). In 2023 around 1 million children experienced destitution, the most severe form of hardship.

Essentials and insecure housing

Children growing up in poverty are more likely to live in families that struggle to afford essential costs, like heating and eating. They may also struggle to afford school uniforms and miss out on school trips or activities with friends, which can make them feel more self-conscious and isolated.

Children who live in insecure housing may also be forced to move schools often and struggle to maintain networks of friends, which can impact both their education and wellbeing.

Future prospects

Growing up in poverty also impacts children’s future prospects. Children who qualify for free school meals are less likely than those who don’t to obtain good English and Maths GCSEs. This is likely to also impact their future job prospects, and children who grow up in poverty generally report lower earnings in adulthood and fewer hours worked.

Children who grow up in the most deprived areas are also more likely to live fewer years in good health than their counterparts in less deprived areas, and children in poverty are more likely to experience a range of mental and physical health issues.

Doodle of a man trapped in a vice.
Political mindsets

Framing toolkit: Talking about poverty

Compassion and justice are values that underpin our society – we believe in helping each other out when we’re having a tough time. We need to make sure those values underpin the way we talk about poverty too.

Explore the toolkit