Nearly three million children in the UK are from families locked in working poverty

The latest figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions reveal that almost 3 million children from working families in the UK are living in poverty. This means that 70% of the 4.1 million UK children who are living in poverty have at least one parent who is in work.

Speaking to the House of Commons on Thursday (28 March 2019), Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd subsequently pledged to look at what more can be done to address poverty.

Through our research, and our day to day work supporting families across the UK, at Employers For Childcare we know just how difficult it can be for families to make ends meet juggling costs including childcare and housing, food and transport. For example, our 2018 NI Childcare Survey found that, for two thirds of families, the childcare bill is their largest or second largest monthly outgoing. Over half of the parents who responded to the Survey stated they have had to cut back or go without to pay for childcare. Some have had to resort to borrowing, using payday loans to meet their bill.

For families who are accessing childcare, the freeze on benefits and a lack of investment to ensure that quality childcare is affordable, mean that despite record levels of employment millions of families are struggling to get by, with more and more locked into working poverty.

It isn’t right that so many children in our society are living in poverty either where families are unable to access and afford quality childcare, or are struggling as a result of costs. Parents and carers who are locked out of access to affordable care face a barrier to getting into, and progressing in, work. Just as we expect our roads and our schools to be there for us, we can redesign our childcare support system to work for us by removing the barrier that affordability poses, ensuring access to quality care is always an option for families, and helps to give our children and young people the best start in life and to realise their potential.

This is something that we can address. Ensuring that quality childcare is both affordable and sustainable is key to unlocking barriers to parents participating and progressing in the workforce, particularly women, and to families who are in work, maximising their incomes. It can also unlock a child’s potential, providing an opportunity for early intervention, nurturing their development and helping to achieve the outcomes that we as a society know are right.

If you are unsure what support your family is entitled to contact our Family Benefits Advice Service on 028 9267 8200 (lines open Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm).