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Poverty: Children

Volume 485: debated on Tuesday 16 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what percentage of children in each age group in (a) Southend-on-Sea, (b) Essex, (c) the Metropolitan Police area of London and (d) England and Wales were living in absolute poverty in each year since 1997. (241127)

Available information is shown in the following tables.

Our child poverty statistics, published in the Households Below Average Income series, only allow a breakdown of the number of children in absolute poverty at Government office region level or for inner or outer London. Information is therefore not available at county or unitary authority level.

Data are also not available for the Metropolitan Police area of London, although data are available for the London Government office region. Regional data are presented as three-year averages, due to variability in single-year estimates.

Data are available, for England and Wales on a single-year basis. Only results for England and Wales can be broken down by age group.

Table 1: Numbers and proportion of children in London in households with incomes less than 60 per cent. of 1998-99 median household income held constant in real terms, three-year averages

Number (million)

Proportion (percentage)

1997-98 to 1999-2000

0.4

27

1998-99 to 2000-01

0.4

24

1999-2000 to 2001-02

0.3

21

2000-01 to 2002-03

0.3

18

2001-02 to 2003-04

0.3

16

2002-03 to 2004-05

0.3

16

2003-04 to 2005-06

0.3

17

2004-05 to 2006-07

0.3

16

Source:

Households Below Average Income

Table 2: Numbers of children in households with incomes less than 60 per cent. of 1998-99 median household income held constant in real terms by age range, England and Wales

Age range

All

0-4

5-10

11-15

16+

1997-98

3.2

0.9

1.2

0.8

0.3

1998-99

3.0

0.9

1.1

0.8

0.2

1999-2000

2.7

0.8

0.9

0.7

0.2

2000-01

2.2

0.6

0.7

0.6

0.2

2001-02

1.7

0.5

0.6

0.5

0.2

2002-03

1.6

0.4

0.5

0.5

0.2

2003-04

1.6

0.4

0.5

0.5

0.2

2004-05

1.5

0.4

0.4

0.5

0.2

2005-06

1.4

0.4

0.4

0.5

0.2

2006-07

1.5

0.4

0.5

0.4

0.2

Source:

Households Below Average Income

Table 3: Proportion of children in households with incomes less than 60 per cent. of 1998-99 median household income held constant in real terms by age range, England and Wales

Age range

All

0-4

5-10

11-15

16+

1997-98

27

28

29

27

22

1998-99

26

27

27

24

21

1999-2000

23

25

23

23

19

2000-01

19

20

17

19

17

2001-02

15

16

14

16

15

2002-03

14

14

13

14

16

2003-04

14

14

12

15

13

2004-05

13

13

12

14

14

2005-06

13

12

12

14

13

2006-07

13

14

13

13

14

Notes:

1. These statistics are based on Households Below Average Income data.

2. Small changes should be treated with caution as these will be affected by sampling error and variability in non-response.

3. The reference period for Household Below Average Income figures is single financial years. Three sample years have been combined for statistics covering London as regional single year estimates are subject to volatility.

4. The income measures used to derive the estimates shown employ the same methodology as the Department for Work and Pensions publication ‘Households Below Average Income’ series, which uses disposable household income, adjusted (or “equivalised”) for household size and composition, as an income measure as a proxy for standard of living.

5. Incomes have been equivalised using OECD equivalisation factors.

6. A dependent child is defined as an individual aged under 16. A person will also be defined as a child if they are aged 16 to 19 (or 16 to 18 in years prior to 2006-07); not married nor in a civil partnership nor living with a partner; living with parents; and in full-time non-advanced education or in unwaged Government training.

7. Numbers of children have been rounded to the nearest hundred thousand children and proportions have been rounded to the nearest per cent.

8. The Metropolitan Police are responsible for policing within the whole of Greater London with the exception of the City of London. They also police the area covered by Heathrow airport.

Source:

Households Below Average Income

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the Government (a) have taken since January 2008 and (b) plan to take in each of the next 12 months towards its target to end child poverty by 2020; what recent representations he has received about the issue; and if he will make a statement. (241128)

Some 600,000 children have been lifted out of relative poverty since 1998-99. Government measures announced since Budget 2007 will lift around a further 500,000 children from relative poverty.

Families with children in the poorest fifth of the population are already on average £4,100 a year better off than in 1997 because of the support we have introduced. The measures we have just announced in the pre-Budget report 2008 will increase this to £4,400 by 2009-10.

We announced in the pre-Budget report that we are bringing forward our commitment to increase the child element of the child tax credit by £25 above indexation from April 2010 to this coming April. We had already planned a £50 increase so from April 2009 the child element will therefore rise by £75 above indexation to £2,235.

And we are bringing forward our planned increases in child benefit, from £18.80 per week to £20 for the first child and from £12.55 to £13.20 for subsequent children, to this January.

While we have made substantial progress we are not complacent. Despite the scale of the challenge the Government’s commitment to tackling child poverty is stronger than ever.

Budget 2008 also announced investment of over £125 million over the next three years in child poverty pilots to draw on new ideas to tackle child poverty over the long term.

We are investing in public services, such as education, healthcare and housing which play a key role in overcoming some of the immediate effects of growing up in poverty and provided poor children with opportunities to enhance their life chances and break cycles of deprivation. Hundreds of thousands of families have been helped by new tax credits, better public services and a renewed welfare state.

And as announced in the Queen’s speech we will introduce legislation that will reinforce the Government’s 2020 commitment to eradicate child poverty.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what research his Department (a) has commissioned, (b) plans to commission and (c) has evaluated on the reasons the Government did not reduce child poverty by a quarter between 1998-99 and 2004-05; and if he will make a statement; (241163)

(2) what research his Department (a) has commissioned, (b) plans to commission and (c) has evaluated on the reasons for the rise in levels of child poverty after 2004-05; and if he will make a statement.

The Department for Work and Pensions has a substantial programme of research. Many of the Department’s research projects have direct links to our understanding of child poverty and the development of our child poverty strategy (for example, evaluating the support provided for lone parents moving into work). While not their main focus, many other projects have implications for child poverty (for example, the evaluation of Pathways to Work). All our research is published and available on the Department’s website. The 2009-10 research programme is currently being established.

Substantial progress has been made in tackling child poverty. Some 600,000 children have been lifted out of relative poverty since 1998-99, reversing the upward trend that saw child poverty double in the 20 years from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s.

The target to reduce child poverty by a quarter between 1998-99 and 2004-05 was established by Public Service Agreements in 2000 and 2002. The target was narrowly missed. Against the indicators used to assess the target, the percentage reduction in this period was 23 per cent. on the before housing costs measure of poverty and 17 per cent. on the after housing costs measure.

The increases since 2004-05, while regrettable, are small and statistically insignificant. The latest figures take us up to March 2007. Since that time, the Government have announced significant measures that will support considerable further progress.

We are investing in public services, such as education, health care and housing which play a key role in overcoming some of the immediate effects of growing up in poverty and provided poor children with opportunities to enhance their life chances and break cycles of deprivation. Hundreds of thousands of families have been helped by new tax credits, better public services and a renewed welfare state.

Measures announced since Budget 2007 will lift around a further 500,000 children out of poverty.

Budget 2008 announced investment of over £125 million over the next three years in child poverty pilots to draw on new ideas to tackle child poverty over the long term.

And as announced in the Queen’s speech we will introduce legislation that will reinforce the Government’s 2020 commitment to eradicate child poverty.