03 October 2008
Child poverty campaigners have urged the government to invest £3bn in tax credits and benefits after figures showed 174 constituencies in Britain had 50% or more children living in, or on the brink of, poverty.
The Campaign to End Child Poverty, a coalition of 130 organisations, says 5.5 million children are in families classed as 'struggling'. It is the first time such figures have been calculated.
According to the campaign's research, there are 4.6 million children in England living in low-income families, 297,000 in Wales, 428,000 in Scotland and 198,000 in Northern Ireland.
In Glasgow Baillieston, an estimated 98% of children are either living in poverty or are part of working families that are struggling to make ends meet.
The figures were calculated by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion using child tax credit and working tax credit data.
Campaign director Hilary Fisher said the figures were 'absolutely shocking'.
She added: 'There are currently 3.9 million children in the UK that are classed as living in poverty, which impacts on every aspect of a child's life.
'A child in poverty is ten times more likely to die in infancy, and five times more likely to die in an accident,' Fisher said.
'If the government does not allocate £3bn in tax credits and benefits in the next Budget, then their plans to reduce child poverty will fail.'
The campaign classes households as being in poverty if they are living on under £10 per person per day.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said the government was committed to the cause.
She said: 'We have lifted 600,000 children out of poverty, we are introducing free nursery education for all two, three and four-year-olds and have seen an increase in educational outcomes at all ages.'
But Fisher said: 'The government has lifted 600,000 children out of poverty, but 100,000 have gone back for each of the past two years.'
The Scottish Government said it was helping low-income families with a council tax freeze, abolishing prescription charges and piloting free school meals.