Majority of British children will soon be growing up in families struggling 'below the breadline', Government warned

 

The majority of British children will soon be growing up in families which are struggling “below the breadline” because of welfare cuts, tax rises and wage freezes, the Government is warned today.

Within two years, almost 7.1m of the nation’s 13m youngsters will be in homes with incomes judged to be less than the minimum necessary for a decent standard of living, according to a new report.

The figures, which emerged a week ahead of George Osborne’s Budget, suggest that an unwanted legacy of the Coalition’s squeeze on spending will be to leave more children living close to poverty.

They coincide with a new survey for the Resolution Foundation think-tank, which found that almost seven in ten of people believe the Government does not understand the financial strains they face.

The impact on children of the economic downturn and austerity measures was underlined by an analysis that concluded that the number of under-18s living in households below minimum income standards would increase by 690,000 between 2010 and 2015. The definitions of acceptable living standards are drawn up by the respected charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Today’s report said 460,000 children would be pushed below those levels by the increase in VAT and cuts to tax credits, 170,000 by sluggish wage growth and 80,000 by the curbs on public sector pay. Just 20,000 would be raised above the minimum level by the new Universal Credit system, which begins to come into force in October.

The TUC, which commissioned the research by the economist Howard Reed, said the figures should “shame” any civilised society and challenged Mr Osborne to cut VAT to ease the pressures on the lowest income families.

By 2015, a lone parent with one child is calculated to require an annual income of £19,226 to have a decent standard of living, rising to £23,992 for a lone parent with two children, £24,643 for a couple with one child and £29,093 if they have two children. But Mr Reed calculated that 54 per cent of youngsters will be living in households with income below those levels in two years’ time.

His report concluded that 90 per cent of families will be worse off in 2015 than in 2010.

Only the poorest ten per cent will be better-off – and then by £29.60 a year, or 57p a week. The boost they received from raising tax thresholds has been virtually wiped out by the increase in VAT to 20 per cent in 2011.

Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, said: “Families are suffering the tightest squeeze in living standards in nearly a century. On top of wages that do not keep up with prices, government policies are making life even more miserable for millions of low to middle-income families through tax increases and cuts in benefits and tax credits.

“By the 2015 election, the majority of children in Britain will be living below the breadline. For any civilised society, that should be shaming.”

The Department of Work and Pensions accused the TUC of choosing an “arbitrary measure to support their own point of view”. A spokesman said the Government was committed to eradicating child poverty by tackling its root causes including unemployment, educational failure and family breakdown. 

He added: “Our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with the Universal Credit making three million people better off. And by next year, we will have taken two million of the lowest earners out of paying tax altogether."

In the Resolution Foundation poll, 69 per cent of people thought the Government did not understand the “financial pressures” they and their families were experiencing. The sentiment was shared across all income and class brackets in the poll conducted by Ipsos MORI.

Just 19 per cent said they believed ministers appreciated the pressures they were under.

Vidhya Alakeson, the foundation’s deputy chief executive, said: “Faltering prosperity is a key issue not only for the government of the day but for all political parties as we approach an election in two years’ time.

The TUC will stage a pre-Budget rally today at which it will urge the Chancellor to focus on jobs, growth and family next week.

Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, will tell the gathering: “Austerity is OK if you are rich. It’s OK if you are one of the 13,000 millionaires in this country because austerity means you get richer. That’s because if you are rich, you’re in line for an extra £100,000 tax break, taken from the pockets of the poor.”

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL) Su...

Junior SQL DBA (SQL Server 2012, T-SQL, SSIS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior SQL DBA...

C# Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, MVC-4, HTML5) London

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Web Develop...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution