A record 2.9 million children from working families in the UK are living in poverty after housing costs have been paid, the latest figures show.
This means 70 per cent of all poor children were in working families last year. That’s up from 67 per cent on the previous year, according to official statistics, with 53 per cent of poor children aged under five.
National Housing Federation (NHF) analysis of the data shows there are now 847,000 children from working families living in poverty for the sole reason that their rent or mortgage is too expensive. This marks a 30 per cent increase since 2010.
Housing has consistently been a key driver of poverty among working families according to the NHF—the voice of housing associations in England—with this year seeing the number of children pushed into poverty before they’ve paid for housing rising by 287,000.
Why Is Housing Such A Key Factor?
As house prices have increased and rents continue to be extortionate, the foundation has voiced concern that children are being pushed even deeper into poverty by their housing costs.
The number of working families has been rising steadily over the past decade and today 86 per cent of families have at least one adult in work according to the Office for National Statistics. However, rates of poverty among working families have also risen.
We are now seeing the full effects of low pay, benefit cuts and the housing crisis.
-Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation
From 2010 to 2017 the Government stopped funding new social housing, a move that’s seen a drastic fall in the number of homes being built that are affordable for families.
Owning a home, campaigners say, is now unattainable for low-income families.
A lack of adequate housing impacts a range of rights, including the right to a private and family life, protected by Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention.
This includes the protection of a person’s physical and psychological integrity, which is arguably compromised by the stress and anxiety of being unable to find suitable housing.
Research last year by the NHF and Crisis showed that England needs to build 90,000 homes for social rent every year to meet the current need. Last year only 6,463 homes were built.
Social Housing Investment ‘More Crucial Than Ever’
Children are more vulnerable than adults and have extra needs, meaning there is also an international treaty which specifically protects the human rights of children.
By signing up to UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991, the UK has agreed that public bodies must consider the best interests of the child when doing anything that affects children.
The NHF is calling on the Government to urgently invest more money in social housing at the next spending review.
Kate Henderson, their chief executive said: “Year after year hundreds of thousands of more hardworking families are falling into poverty – forced to choose between feeding and clothing their children or providing a roof over their heads.
“We are now seeing the full effects of low pay, benefit cuts and the housing crisis. The lack of affordable homes is exacerbating in-work poverty.
“There could not be a clearer signal to the Government that the country desperately needs more social housing – direct investment in the upcoming spending review is the only way to provide truly affordable homes for these families. This is more crucial than ever in the midst of Brexit uncertainty.”
The government said that tackling poverty was its priority.