Southwark has the sixth-highest rate of child poverty out of all local authorities in the UK, according to a new report.
The study, carried out by Loughborough University for the End Child Poverty Coalition, takes into account estimates of average housing costs in each area to produce its figures. Poverty in this case means the percentage of children living in households with below 60 per cent median income for the area.
With rent so high in London and south-east England compared to the rest of the UK, nine of the ten boroughs with the worst child poverty are in the capital.
Some 43.1 per cent of children are in poverty after housing costs in Southwark, according to the study. Tower Hamlets has the highest rate in the country, with 55.8 per cent, followed by Newham on 50 per cent, Barking and Dagenham on 48.8 per cent, Hackney on 47.9 per cent and Waltham Forest on 45.3 per cent. Islington, Lambeth, Birmingham and Greenwich make up the rest of the top ten.
Bermondsey and Old Southwark is in the top 20 parliamentary constituencies for child poverty after housing costs, at 47.4 per cxent.
These ‘after housing costs’ figures are estimates based on house prices and rent in each local authority, rather than at ward level, researchers said. Child poverty before housing costs are taken into account is much lower in Southwark, at around 20 per cent.
The data shows the number of children rose by 200,000 in 2019/20, and was up 500,000 across the last five years. It does not take into account the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy since March 2020, meaning child poverty is likely to have worsened further.
Loughborough’s Dr Juliet Stone, who led the report, said: “These latest statistics show that tackling child poverty remains a major challenge. The proportion of children living in a household with income below the poverty line after housing costs has not only risen overall in the UK, but has shown an especially stark increase in certain regions….
“These statistics predate the outbreak of Covid-19, showing that the child poverty rates were worrying high even before the pandemic. This is likely to have worsened even further over the past year. It is therefore imperative that we continue to monitor child poverty in the UK and at a local level, identifying the areas that are in greatest need.”
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “Latest figures show that the number of children in absolute poverty has fallen by 300,000 since 2010. We are committed to supporting families most in need, spending billions more on welfare and planning a long-term route out of poverty by protecting jobs through furlough and helping people find new work through our Plan for Jobs. We also introduced our £269 million Covid Local Support Grant to help children and families stay warm and well-fed throughout the pandemic.”