Official poverty statistics: Government pulled children out of poverty - but universal credit cut will push them back again

Published on: 
31 March 2022

Today’s annual poverty statistics show an estimated 400,000 children were pulled out of poverty last year when universal credit (UC) was increased by £20 per week. But the Government’s decision to cut UC last October will have pushed those children back into poverty. On top of the Chancellor’s failure to bring benefits in line with inflation from April, families in poverty will suffer even more as costs soar.

Today’s Households Below Average Income, covering April 2020- April 2021 when the £20 uplift was in place shows:

  • An estimated 400,000 children were lifted out of relative poverty (after housing costs). That meant 3.9 million children (27% of all UK children) were in poverty.

  • At 3.9 million, the number of children in poverty in 2020/21 was still 300,000 higher than in 2010-11 (when it was 3.6 million).

  • 22% of children (900,000) living in poverty were in a household classified as food insecure

Child Poverty Action Group says today’s figures demonstrate that investing in social security is the most efficient way to reduce child poverty and support struggling households. But without the extra £20 per week on universal credit and with only a 3.1% uprating of benefits planned when inflation is 8% (a real-terms income cut of £663 per year for universal credit claimants) the gap between what struggling families need and the support they receive has grown too wide.

Chief Executive of the charity Alison Garnham said:

"Today’s figures show that government has the power to protect children from poverty. But in a week when the chancellor made clear he was comfortable with his choices and the prime minister claimed child poverty had been left out of his plan for the country ‘by accident’ it looks like Ministers have turned their backs on low-income families.

"Many of the children who were lifted out of poverty by the £20 increase to universal credit have already been forced back over the brink by the government’s actions. And as millions struggle with spiralling costs, we know the picture will worsen. Government must step in to support hard-pressed families by increasing benefits by 8% to match inflation."

    Note to editors:

    The statistics released by DWP today are less reliable than usual because of data collection issues during the pandemic and should be treated with a high level of caution. However, the fall in child poverty reported in this year’s release aligns with independent forecasts.

    CPAG press office 07816 909302