Child poverty

The number of children in a family and their parents work status all affect the likelihood that a child will be in poverty.

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Link to source: Households Below Average Income

In-work child poverty rates are closely linked to the number of adults in work in the family and their hours of work. Child poverty rates are very low for children in families where two parents are in work, with at least one in full-time work. Families with a single earner or with only part-time workers experience much higher poverty rates.

Children in lone-parent families have high poverty rates, even when their parent works full time. In lone-parent families working full time poverty has risen from 13% in 1996/97 to 22% in 2018/19. Between 1998/99 and 2010/11, the child poverty rate in lone-parent families working part-time more than halved from 52% to 22%. It has since risen back to 41%. Poverty among single earner couples where one parent works full-time rose from 29% in 1996/97 to 38% in 2014/15 and remains at this level in 2018/19.

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Among families with children there are very different patterns of poverty depending on the number and age of children. Over the last 20 years, child poverty has been highest in families with three or more children. The child poverty rate in families with three or more children in 1994/95 was 45%, compared with 27% of children in families with one child and 26% of children in families with two children.

This rate decreased from 1994/95 to 2012/13 but has begun to rise again over the past five years to 43% in 2018/19 (even before the two child limit on benefits and tax credits was introduced in April 2017). The child poverty rate for families with one child or two children was 23% and 24% respectively in 2018/19.