One in five key worker households have children living in poverty

One in five (19%) key worker households have children living in poverty, new TUC research has revealed.

The research shows that the number of kids growing up in poverty in key worker households has increased by 65,000 over the past two years to nearly 1 million (989,000) in 2022.

It forecasts that in 2023 that number will rise again to 1.1 million unless ministers take further action to support families.

The analysis – undertaken for the TUC by Landman Economics - highlights how in some regions of the UK more than two-fifths of children in key worker households are now living in poverty.

Key worker families in the North East (41%) have the highest rate of child poverty followed by the North West (29%) and London (29%) and the East of England (24%).
Scotland (8.3%) and Wales (8.9%) have the lowest rates.

The TUC warned child poverty rates among key worker households are likely to get worse.

With another of year of real-terms pay cuts for key workers in the public sector, the union body says this will have a negative impact on frontline workers.

Dr Paul Gosling, president of school leaders’ union NAHT and primary headteacher in Devon, said: “At no point in my thirty-year career of working in schools have I seen the number of families being pushed into poverty as they currently are. This national cost of living crisis is crippling so many hard-working people and the government needs to take some serious and immediate action to support people. School leaders know that the effects of poverty can hugely disadvantage children’s life chances, and they are angry and frustrated that more is not being done to support our communities.”

Paul Whiteman, NAHT’s general secretary, said: “Our members have described the rise in poverty in their schools’ communities over the past year as ‘shocking and stark’. It is clear that the combined pressures of Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis have driven more families and children into poverty. Children who are hungry are not ready to learn. Teachers and school leaders are increasingly having to tackle the impact of poverty before they can even start teaching. These children are already the victims of a decade of austerity; the government urgently needs to act to avoid these children becoming an entirely lost generation.”

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