Rise in child poverty is double official rate, says think-tank

24 Jul 18

Child poverty has risen twice as fast as official figures suggest and has been significantly underestimated in government data, a think-tank has warned.

The Resolution Foundation says the proportion of children in poverty grew by 21% between 2011 and 2016 – not 11% as government data suggest.

The organisation’s annual Living Standards Audit report also found that under-reporting of benefit income means that the impact of benefit cuts is being understated.

Adam Corlett, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Reducing child poverty has been a goal of politicians from all parties in recent decades.

“But our analysis shows that child poverty is likely to have risen last year, and that rises since 2010 have been underestimated in official government data.”

The report said there was a gap of £37bn between actual benefit expenditure last year and the level of benefit income reported in the government household incomes survey that is used to calculate poverty rates.

This is caused by households under-reporting the amount of benefits they receive.

The foundation also said that the government should urgently review planned reductions to in-work benefits before families currently claiming tax credits are moved on to the universal credit system.

Corlett said: “It is vital that government and other policy makers understand the positive impact that cash transfers have on low-income families, not least as they are in the middle of a huge multi-year programme of over £14bn worth of benefit cuts.

“The risk is that, unless the lessons of the past are learned, the future could spell squeezed incomes and further increases in child poverty.”

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