Poverty hits one child in three

MORE THAN four million children in Britain are living in poverty, according to new research that highlights the task the Prime Minister has set himself with his pledge to end such hardship within a generation.

The number of children in households with incomes below half the national average climbed from 1.4 million, or one in ten children, in 1968 to 4.3 million, or one in three in 1995-96, research published by the Institute of Fiscal Studies reports today.

Half of today's poor children live in households where nobody works, and the UK has the highest level of joblessness among families with children on an international comparison.

The research, by Paul Gregg, a Treasury adviser, Susan Harkness and Stephen Machin, also shows that poor households with children have enjoyed no improvement in their living standards since the late 1970s, falling further and further behind the average.

The figures reported in the paper show that 89 per cent of the children of single parents are living in poverty. The number of children living in lone parent families trebled between 1968 and 1995-96.

The study on UK child poverty comes in a week when Unicef is due to report that 650 million children worldwide - twice the US population - live in poverty. Tony Blair recently committed the Government to trying to end child poverty in Britain within a generation, and to cut the total by 700,000 by the end of this Parliament.