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Within: Socio-economic Inequality

Related to: Children and Young People, Complex Families, People with Multiple Needs, Out of Work BenefitsEducation Attainment, Employment and Economic Activity, Homelessness, House Conditions, Life Expectancy, Education, Wellbeing, Child Health and Wellbeing Survey , Food Poverty

Key Facts

  • Approximately 11% (3,790 children) of dependent children in Bath and North East Somerset lived in low income families as at 31st August 2013 - lower than national (18%) and regional (14%).  This also compares to 13% in North Somerset and 11% in Wiltshire
  • This figure increases to approximately 19% when housing costs are taken into consideration
  • Child poverty is estimated to cost £44m in Bath and North East Somerset
  • There are wide variations in the child poverty figures across different wards and LSOAs in Bath and North East Somerset

Definitions

The definition and measurement of poverty in the UK is one that has generated a great deal of debate.

There are four dimensions of poverty captured under the 2010 Child Poverty Act:

  • Relative low income poverty - below 60% median household income
  • Absolute low income poverty - below 60% of median household income held constant at 2010/11 level
  • Persistent low income poverty – below 60% of median household income for three years or longer
  • Material deprivation – combined with relative low income below 70% median household income and suffering from inability to afford essential spending needs

The UK government primarily uses relative low income poverty as the definition of child poverty.  The 60% income threshold Before Housing Costs (BHC) in 2013/14 was £272 per week. 1

A proposed new government definition of Child Poverty will consider joblessness, educational failure and family breakdown as well as income. 2

Information about organisations and events in Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire that support families on a range of issues such as childcare, parenting, benefits and school, can be found on the Bathnes 1 Big Database.

 

For the results of the Child Health and Wellbeing Survey see Child Health and Wellbeing Survey section.

What does the data say?

UK

In 2013 Unicef3 conducted a review which placed a UK context around child material wellbeing at a national level.

The UK ranks 14th out of the 29 countries for child material wellbeing, scoring just above average out of these countries.  The Netherlands has the highest level of child material wellbeing, with some of the other countries above the UK being Germany, France, and Norway.  Romania has the lowest score, with some of the other countries below the UK being Italy, Spain and the United States.

  • the relative child poverty rate is 10%, and is mid table. Finland is the only country with a relative child poverty rate of less than 5%. Four southern European countries – Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain –have child poverty rates higher than 15% (along with Latvia, Lithuania,Romania and the United States).
  • the child poverty gap is 24%. Luxemburg and Hungary are the only countries with an average child poverty gap of less than 15%. Three countries – Spain, United States and Lithuania have average child poverty gaps higher than 35%.
  • the Unicef child deprivation rate , which uses a range of material deprivation measures is 5.5%. The UK is in the top 10, with the Nordic countries and the Netherlands claiming the top six places. Four of the countries have child deprivation rates of more than 25% – Hungary, Latvia, Portugal and Romania.
  • thee low family affluence rate is 11%. The UK is 17th, with the Netherlands and the Nordic countries, along with Luxembourg and Switzerland, with the smallest percentage of children reporting low family affluence (all under 8%).  Low family affluence rates are highest in eight Central and Eastern European countries – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia (all higher than 15%).

The State of the Nation 2013 report4 highlights the following about the changing nature of UK child poverty over time.:

  • The UK has gone from having one of the highest levels of child poverty in Europe to a rate near the average over the last 15 years.
  • Numbers of children in relative poverty have fallen recently but those in absolute poverty increased by more than 275,000 in 2011/12.
  • Since 2010 there has been a 15 per cent decline in the number of children in poverty in workless households but a big rise in the proportion of poor children who are in families where someone is in work. Two-thirds of poor children are now in working households.
  • Low pay is now a stronger predictor of poverty than low hours.
  • child poverty costs £1,000 per taxpayer per year, but that improving social mobility by raising all children to average levels of educational attainment could contribute £56 billion a year by 2050.

 

Bath and North East Somerset

HMRC5 released a snapshot of 'Children in low income families' defined by those living in familes in reciept of certain tax credits and benefits and earning less than 60% of the national medinan income. These figures indicate that:

  • 11.7% of children under-16 (14.8% in the South West, 18.6% in England) were in low income families in B&NES
  • 11.2% of all dependent children (14.2% in the South West, 18.0% in England) were in low income families in B&NES
  • In terms of the children that came from a family in receipt of Child Tax Credit (<60% median income) or Income Support or Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance in B&NES; 1,030 children came from a family headed by a couple (27% of these families) and 2,760 from a family headed by a lone parent (73% of these families).

Figure 1: Percentage of children in low income families in B&NES by LSOA as at 31st August 2013 6

The Wards in B&NES with the highest and lowest percentage of children in low income families as at 31st August 2013 were:

Highest

  • Twerton - 28%
  • Southdown - 21%
  • Radstock – 21%

Lowest

  • Bathwick – 2%
  • Saltford – 3%
  • Chew Valley South – 4%

End Child Poverty Campaign 7

The End Child Poverty Campaign (made up of about 150 organisations from civic society) published a follow on report in October 2014 on the level of child poverty in each parliamentary constituency, local authority and ward in the UK.  To overcome methodological problems with the above HMRC data, adjustments have been made to produce figures compatible with the measures derived from the national survey of income, showing how many children live in households with below 60 per cent of median income.  Specifically, the adjustments ensure that the total reported level of child poverty, before and after housing costs, is similar when adding up all the local figures as the official national totals.  Thus, the local data gives an idea of the relative poverty levels in different areas, but are adjusted to estimate what these actual levels would be if they could be measured on the same basis as the national household income survey.  These figures include an upward adjustment in the in-work figure and a downward adjustment in the out-of-work figure.  The adjustments are made separately to for After Housing Costs (AHC) and Before Housing Costs (BHC) estimates, in each case according to how the total of the local estimates compare to the actual national measure.  Figures are then updated, taking into account Labour Force Survey data on the number of children in non-working households for the final quarter of 2013.

Approximately 12% of children in Bath and North East Somerset lived in poverty during Q3 2013/14, increasing to approximately 19% when housing costs have been taken into account.

Figure 2 demonstrates the breakdown by local government ward of child poverty (including housing costs) against this model as at Q3 2013/14.

Figure 2: Percentage of children estimated to be in poverty, After Housing Costs, in Bath and North East Somerset by Ward as at Q3 2013/14 8

The Wards in B&NES with the highest and lowest percentage of children in poverty as at Q3 2013/14 After Housing Costs (AHC) were:

Highest

  • Twerton - 38%
  • Radstock - 35%
  • Southdown – 27%

Lowest

  • Keynsham East – 6%
  • Bathwick – 7%
  • Saltford – 9%

 

What can we realistically change?

State of the Nation 2013: social mobility and child poverty in Great Britain report  9

Drawing on historical and international evidence, the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission identifies features of societies with lower child poverty and higher social mobility and offers these as benchmarks against which to assess developments in the UK:

  • Adults supported to be warm authoritative parents actively engaged in their children’s education, particularly in the early years
  • High-quality, affordable and universal childcare that enables more parents to work and helps improve children’s early development
  • High-quality schools and teachers relentlessly focused on raising standards, building social skills and closing attainment gaps
  • Clear accessible routes into work for those pursuing both vocational and academic education and training
  • Plenty of high-quality jobs throughout the country with good progression opportunities and fair recruitment processes
  • Family incomes that are supported by decent levels of pay and the right incentives to find employment and work enough hours

The campaign to End Child Poverty 10

The campaign to End Child Poverty sets out three key areas where Local Authorities can take action on child poverty:

1) The protection of families with children in decisions about local benefits - From April 2013, local authorities will have significantly increased discretion over the allocation of financial support for families, although in circumstances in which this support has been dramatically reduced.

Local Authorities will be responsible for:

Providing support with the cost of essential items such as replacing cookers or fridges for families on a low income, as the Social Fund is replaced by schemes run by local authorities

Deciding who receives help with paying Council Tax, as Council Tax Benefit is replaced with local assistance schemes.5 The Resolution Foundation has found that low income families will see their council tax rise by up to £600 a year as a result of this change. 

Deciding who should receive support with housing costs. April 2013 will see the introduction of the £500 a week benefit cap and the bedroom tax for families who live in social housing if the government believes they have a spare bedroom. Local Authorities have been allocated control over Discretionary Housing Payments, which they can use to help make up rent shortfalls for a small proportion of families affected by these changes.

2) The publication of a Child Poverty Strategy -The Child Poverty Act 2010 requires local authorities to undertake a strategic needs assessment of child poverty in their local area, and to publish a strategy setting out how they will address it.

  •  End Child Poverty believes that it is vital that local authorities publish their strategies, and include within them how they are responding to changes in welfare reform.

3) The prioritisation of child poverty by the Health and Wellbeing Board - Health and Wellbeing boards bring together local authorities, NHS and other partners.

  • The Marmot review of health inequalities found that that child poverty has a severe impact on children’s health, and called for a strategy to give every child the best start in life. As part of their strategic focus on health inequalities, local health and well-being boards need to prioritise tackling the causes of child poverty and its impact on health outcomes.
  • The joint health and well-being strategies should set a clear expectation on local partners to take action.