Social Justice

Child poverty in working households soared by 1,350 a week since Tories came to power, report finds

New analysis from the TUC shows that there are now three million children in working households living in poverty – and it calls for action from politicians to tackle child poverty in the UK

a child reading

Politicians have claimed that "work is the best route out of poverty" but this research shows more needs to be done. Image: Unsplash

More than 900,000 children in households with at least one working adult are living in poverty compared with when the Conservatives came to power 14 years ago.

There are currently three million children in working households living in poverty, up from 2.1 million in 2010, according to new analysis of government data by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

It is an increase of more than 1,300 children in working households living in poverty each week.

The TUC has said that a “toxic combination of pay stagnation, rising insecure work and cuts to social security” has led to the rise in working families in poverty.

Real wages are worth less today than they were in 2008. The TUC estimates that, if earnings had grown according to trends before the financial crisis, the average worker would be £14,000 a year better off.

The number of people in low-paid, insecure work has also risen to a record 4.1 million, which is nearly one million more people than when the Conservatives came to power in 2010.

The TUC has called on the next government to take action on reducing child poverty and improving workers’ rights.

Paul Nowak, general secretary of the TUC, said: “No child in Britain should be growing up below the breadline. But under the Conservatives we have seen a huge in rise in working families in poverty. 

“A toxic combination of pay stagnation, rising insecure work and cuts to social security have had a devastating impact on family budgets. We urgently need an economic reset and a government that will make work pay. Reducing child poverty must be a priority in the years ahead.”



It comes after Big Issue questioned party leaders Keir Starmer, Rishi Sunak, Ed Davey and John Swinney around their plans to end poverty.

Starmer promised that he would be “as bold as Attlee” with “ambitious investment and reform”.

The TUC has backed Labour’s New Deal for Working People and Green Prosperity Plan to create more jobs and “make work pay”.

But are concerns from charities around Labour’s plans for the benefits system. Starmer said this week “handouts from the state do not nurture the same sense of self-reliant dignity as a fair wage”, prompting fears that Labour may take a tough approach to social security.

Starmer also pledged “an ambitious, wide-ranging child poverty strategy”, giving all children in primary school free breakfast, protecting renters from arbitrary eviction and slashing fuel poverty.

Sunak echoed Starmer by telling the Big Issue that “work is the best way out of poverty” – nodding to Conservative plans to tighten the benefits system and drive more people into work, including those who are disabled and ill.

But this latest TUC research shows that work is not always a route out of poverty, with three quarters of children living in poverty in working households.

John Swinney said his “mission to eradicate child poverty in Scotland” is his “top priority as first minister”. He added that “there can be no acceptable number of children living in poverty”.

And Ed Davey said the Liberal Democrats would scrap the two-child limit – which charities estimate would lift 250,000 children out of poverty – and provide more support for unpaid carers.

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