90,000 SE London children living in poverty as borough breakdown revealed

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More than 90,000 children across southeast London are now living in poverty, as new data reveals a steady growth in the number of children in low-income households.

The End Child Poverty coalition, which commissioned the new report showing almost a third of children across the UK live below the breadline, said families were already on a “cliff edge” before the coronavirus pandemic.

The research combined recent figures from the Department for Work and Pensions with local housing costs to produce new estimates for low-income families – those earning less than 60 per cent of the median income.

The figures show a rise in child poverty in nearly every local authority in London since 2014-15 – increasing to 39% across London.

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According to the data, Lewisham saw the biggest rise in southeast London children living in low-income families, increasing to 42 per cent of children aged 16 or under in 2018/19, up from 39.1 per cent in 2014/15.

This equates to an increase from 23,648 children in 2014-15, to 26,251 last year.

Despite Lewisham having the highest increase of children in low-income households, Greenwich has the highest rate and number, with 43.2 per cent of children aged 16 or under in low-income families, up from 40.4 per cent in 2014/15.

This equates to an increase to 27,246 last year, up from 23,770 in 2014/15.

Bexley ranked under the Capital’s average, with 34.6 per cent of children aged 16 and under in living in families with low-incomes in 2018/19 – compared to 32.3 per cent in 2014/15.

That makes 17,671 last year, up from 15,888 in 2014/15.

But Bromley was the only southeast London borough to buck the capital’s trend.

While the borough still recorded a rise in the number of children in low-income families since 2014/15 – the rate against the wider population actually decreased.

The analysis shows 19,169 children living in low-income families in Bromley in 2018-19, up from 18,055 in 2014/15.

This means 28.3 per cent of all those aged 16 and under are living in poverty, down from 28.5 per cent in 2014/15.

The report is based on DWP data from March, and estimates of the effect of housing costs on poverty rates by Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Social Policy.

London boroughs made up 14 of the top 20 child poverty hotspots last year, with a majority of children in Tower Hamlets (55.4%) and Newham (50.3%) living below the breadline.

Alison Graham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Londoners want every child to be able to reach their full potential but this new data shows that our capital has the highest concentration of children in poverty in the UK, and rising – which in practice means hundreds of thousands of children were falling behind, even before the pandemic.

“That should be a wake-up call for Government as we enter a coronavirus recession.

“Cutting universal credit would only mean more of London’s children falling into poverty.”

Across the UK, the proportion of children in low-income families rose from 28% to 30% between 2014-15 and 2018-19.

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