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Understanding severe child poverty through statistics.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding severe child poverty through statistics."— Presentation transcript:

1 understanding severe child poverty through statistics

2 overview of presentation About Save the Children Measuring child poverty – quick overview Severe child poverty – the first challenge The second challenge The third challenge The need to use statistics outside of academia.

3 Save the children’s UK PROGRAMME Programmes: - FAST -Eat, Sleep, Learn & Play - Young Leaders Advocacy & Campaigns: -Welfare Reform -Childcare - Decent jobs - Early Intervention 120 Shops Volunteers & Local branches

4 measuring child poverty The standard definition of income poverty is living in a household with an equivalised household income that is below 60% of the median household income. There are 3.5million children living in poverty in the UK after housing costs. This means that more than one in four children (27%) are living in poverty in the UK. There are 2.5million children living in poverty before housing costs. Almost one in five children (19%) are living in poverty before housing costs in the UK. Child poverty data is reported in the Government’s Households Below Average Incomes (HBAI) report based on data from the Family Resources Survey. However, the figures above come from: Institute for Fiscal Studies (2011) Child and Working-Age Poverty from 2010 to The HBAI report tends to be around 18 months out of data so the most recent child poverty figures we have are for 2009/10. The IFS has calculated child poverty figures up to 2020 based on government policies to date.

5 the challenge Child poverty fell considerably between 1999 and 2004 (from 4.4 million in 1998/99 to 3.6 million in 2004/05 after housing costs and 3.4 million to 2.7 million before housing costs over the same period). But what was happening to the number of children living in ‘deep poverty’? Robustness of existing data – HBAI. Why not just look at those below 40% and 50% medians?

6 the challenge continued “Despite the considerable recent decline in child poverty in the UK that has, at least in part, been attributed to government reforms, separate independent research has suggested that children from the very poorest families remain a legitimate concern. Indeed, Sutherland (2001) noted that the income situation of the poorest children may have worsened following the government’s early reforms. Recent evidence from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) showed that whereas the proportion of children in non-severe poverty declined significantly after 1997, there has been no evidence of a corresponding decline in the proportion of children in severe poverty (Magadi and Middleton, 2005). This was consistent with findings from a separate study based on the Family Resources Survey (FRS), which observed that the decline in child poverty between 1997/98 and 2003/04 was lower for more severe poverty (below 50 per cent of median income) compared to the proportion below 60 per cent of median income (Brewer et al, 2005).” Severe Child Poverty in the UK - Monica Magadi and Sue Middleton (Save the Children, 2007)

7 definition Children are living in severe poverty if they live in… “… a household with an income of below 50 per cent of the median (after housing costs), and where both adults and children lack at least one basic necessity, and either adults or children or both groups lack at least two basic necessities.”

8 the material deprivation element Our severe child poverty measure combines income with material deprivation using information collected in the Government’s Family Resources Survey. The survey includes 19 items (9 for children, 10 for adults) that are considered every day essentials, ranging from food to clothing and fees for swimming lessons.

9 to summarise: why measure severe child poverty? Figures in the first half of the last decade suggested little change in the number of families living on the lowest incomes. Government wasn’t doing it. 60% median measure draws policy makers to solutions that lift people just below the poverty line above it. Lack of evidence about what is happening to those suffering the worst effects of poverty.

10 initial findings 1.4 million children living in poverty in % are in households not connected to the labour market, highlighting the low level of out of work benefits and the need to support parents much further to get in and remain in the labour market 42% are in households receiving the child tax credit, indicating the significant impact of families not taking up their full entitlements 44% have mothers with no educational qualifications compared to 10% of non-poor children, highlighting that any long term assault on child poverty must prioritise the education of those currently being failed by the system The region with by far the highest levels of severe poverty is London where more than 1 in 6 children are in severe poverty. Source: M Magadi and S Middleton, Severe Child Poverty in the UK, Save the Children, 2007

11 at risk of severe poverty Children living in families with no workers Children living in single parent families Children living in a household where there is a disability Children living in large families Children where parents have no educational attainment Many living in rented accommodation and surviving on benefits

12 the second challenge: updating the figures Only one year’s set of figures. No reaction from policy makers. What was happening to severe child poverty during the ‘boom years’ prior to 2008?

13 Findings in 2010 – 2005 to million children in severe poverty. UK severe child poverty rose from 11% to 13% (increase of 260,000 children) Severe child poverty in England was 1.5 million in 2007/8 (1.4 based on the three year rolling average) London – 19% of children in severe poverty North West – 14% Yorkshire and the Humber – 12% 07/08 figures a good estimate for 2009 – recession

14 the third challenge: At the local level HBAI data doesn’t tell us about child poverty at a local level. But we know that there is a strong spatial element to child poverty in the UK. The End Child Poverty Sector has used tax credit data to tell us about local levels of child poverty (based on the 60% media measure) But what about local levels of severe child poverty?

15 Methodology In HBAI, calculate the number of children living in severe poverty in each region of the UK. Further split these numbers down by the household work status – all adults working, no adults working, some adults working. Break down the number of children in each local authority by the same types of household work status using the Annual Population Survey (APS). Calculate each of these numbers as a proportion of all children in each region who are in each type of household. Apply these proportions to the numbers of children in severe poverty by each household work status in each region. For both datasets, we use an average of three years of data to make the estimates more robust. Some of the APS data in particular can change significantly from year to year. For this reason we present the analysis for upper tiers, rather than district local authorities. Note that we use household work status, not family work status, as the APS figures are only available for households. The family work status would be based solely on the work status of the child’s parents. The household work status considers any other adults living with the child including, for instance, older siblings who are no longer classed as dependents.

16 Limitations of the approach In taking the approach we have, we recognise there are some limitations. Broadly they fall into two categories. Firstly, the datasets do not match perfectly. The definition of child poverty in HBAI includes all dependent children under the age of 19. The definition of children in the APS only includes children aged 16 or under. This only makes a difference inasmuch as the distribution of under 19s by household work status may be different to that of under 16s from one local authority to another. Also, the datasets cover slightly different time periods. In our estimates, HBAI covers 2006/07 to 2008/09. APS covers 2007 to This is a second order effect, though, which is mitigated by averaging over three years in both cases. The second limitation is that we assume that, for a given work status, the risks of severe child poverty are the same for all local authorities in a given region. This would have the greatest impact in regions where housing costs or wages varied substantially from one local authority to another. Given these limitations, it is important that the figures in this report are referred to as estimates in any external communications.

17 Findings in 2011 The local authorities with the highest estimated level of severe child poverty are Manchester (27%), Tower Hamlets (27%), Newham (25%), Leicester (24%) and Westminster (24%). There are twenty nine local authorities in Great Britain where over one in five children live in severe poverty. Blaenau Gwent (20%), Torfaen (18%), Swansea (18%), Caerphilly (18%) and Newport (18%) have the highest levels in Wales. In each, at least one in six children live in severe poverty. In Scotland, Glasgow (18%) stands out as having a much higher rate than elsewhere. It accounts for around one in five children in severe poverty in Scotland. Fourteen of the authorities in the twenty five with the highest rates of severe poverty are in London – high housing costs. Source: New Policy Institute Severe Child Poverty: An update February GOVERNMENT CHILD POVERTY STRATEGY (published March 2011) COMMITTED TO A FOCUS ON SEVERE CHILD POVERTY

18 Using statistics outside of academia Statistics are impactful They get attention Create a public debate Focus the minds of policy makers Increase the profile of the organisation But how up-to-date are they? How to tell a ‘new story’ whilst continuing to be robust? How to convey complex statistics to the media and general public? Time pressures Having the required expertise (both internal and external) What statistics tell us and what they don’t !


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