The high levels of child poverty in the UK are currently costing the country at least £29 billion a year – or £1,098 per household – according to new research by Donald Hirsch of Loughborough University.
In 2008, research commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimated that child poverty cost the country £25 billion a year. About half this cost stemmed from the fact that adults have lower productivity and a higher risk of unemployment if they suffer the disadvantages associated with growing up in poverty. The other half was the additional public spending required to deal with social problems resulting from high levels of child poverty.
This short report presents calculations which update the 2008 estimate to 2013. Like the 2008 figure, it is not a precise calculation but rather an indicative figure. The original work used the principle of making a “cautious estimate”: where there were a range of potential effects it used the lower end of the cost range. Thus, the estimate represents a minimum of what child poverty is likely to cost the country, rather than a speculative figure of what it might cost in a worst-case scenario.