Much has been written and said about the introduction of size criteria in the social rented sector (the ‘bedroom tax’). Indeed, few other changes to the benefits system have provoked so much comment from politicians, journalists, charities, landlords, advice providers and church leaders.
London has the highest rates of child poverty in the country, with 37 per cent of children growing up in poverty. While the drivers of poverty are always complex, there has long been a recognition that London’s lower parental employment rates play a significant role in driving these high rates of child poverty.
Since 2012, Child Poverty Action Group and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have been measuring the cost of a child and the adequacy of family incomes and benefit levels. This year, for the first time, the project also assessed the additional costs facing families in London.
This month’s edition of Poverty has a significant focus on costs. At a time when we are experiencing zero inflation, and macroeconomists are fretting about the spectre of deflation, this may seem incongruous. Yet the cost of a raising a child, particularly childcare and rent, continues to creep up, at the same time as the means for meeting these costs continue to be eroded.
As the election recedes into the distance, the new government is setting about implementing its agenda, with the Queen’s Speech delivered and first Budget of this parliament scheduled for early July. The agenda feels a familiar one.
Britain has a poor record on poverty. While overall wealth in Britain has doubled over the last three decades, child poverty today is much higher than it was a generation ago and much higher than in most other rich countries.
Poverty was first published in winter 1966 and, while its exact format has varied, it has tended to offer commentary on the issues of the day. Looking through the archives, it is striking how many of the themes that were pressing then endure today, as we publish the 150th edition.