What is child poverty and how is it measured?


What is child poverty?

At its heart poverty is very simple – the family does not have access to enough income and other resources to provide a decent standard of living. This is likely to limit the child’s opportunity to experience an enjoyable childhood.

However, the drivers and impacts of poverty are much more complex. Drivers and impacts are cyclical and self-perpetuating. Children who grow up in poverty and are not in a position to thrive, learn and achieve can often become parents of children who also fall into this position.

They face a risk of having poor health, being exposed to crime and failing to reach their full potential. It means they may miss out on school trips, may not have adequate winter clothing and are not given the same opportunities to be able to enjoy leisure activities with their peers. As a result, their education suffers, making it difficult to get the qualifications they need to move on to sustainable, well-paid jobs. This limits their potential to earn the money needed to support their own families in later life, and so a cycle of poverty is created. This chapter of the document is a chance to highlight what child poverty means locally and offers some insight as to how we might respond.

In order to ensure today’s poor children are not tomorrow’s poor adults, child poverty must be tackled now.

Drivers and outcomes of poverty

Source: idea.gov.uk (2010)

How is child poverty measured?

The Child Poverty Act 2010 defines a child as being in poverty if he or she:

• lives in a home with absolute low income. This means that families’ income is not rising in real terms; their income is below 60 per cent of the 1998/99 baseline year median equivalised household income expressed in today’s prices. In 2008/09, 12 per cent of all children (1.6 million children) lived in absolute poverty.

• lives in a home of relative low income. This means that the family’s income is not keeping pace with the growth of incomes in the economy as a whole and income is below 60 per cent of contemporary median equivalised household income. In 2008/09 this included 22 per cent of all children (2.8 million children).

• experiences material deprivation and low income combined. This means that the family has an income below 70 per cent of contemporary median equivalised household income and experiences material deprivation. In 2008/09 there were 2.2 million children growing up in low income and material deprivation (17 per cent of all children).

• grows up in persistent poverty. This means the family has had its equivalised net income for the year at less than 60 per cent of median equivalised net household income for at least three of the past four years. Between 2004 and 2007, 10 per cent of all children lived in persistent poverty.

To allow comparison and benchmarking of child poverty, a national indicator was developed which uses the second definition listed above (families with income below 60% of contemporary median). Essentially, this looks at whether the incomes of the poorest families are keeping pace with the growth of incomes in the economy as a whole.

Locally, we do not have full and timely access to the intelligence that feeds NI116: the last date of publication for this indicator was 2008. Consequently, we have gathered an array of information from local and national sources that can help us to assess how the situation has changed since the beginning of recession.
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