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What is child poverty?

Young girl smiling

A family with two adults and two children under 15 needs to have £375 a week, after paying for housing  to be above the poverty line. How do you think that compares to what your family has?

  1. £13 a day – the reality of living in poverty
  2. How does living in poverty compare with the average UK family?
  3. What effects can child poverty have?
  4. How does Barnardo's help?

£13 a day – the reality of living in poverty

Many families living on a low income have only about £13 per day per person.

This needs to cover:

  • all of their day to day expenditure, including necessities such as food and transport
  • occasional items such as new shoes and clothes, school trips and activities for children, and replacing broken household items such as washing machines and kitchen equipment
  • all household bills such as electricity, gas and water, telephone bills, and TV licences.

Find out:

How does living in poverty compare with the average UK family?

In 2013, average weekly spending for:

  • couple families with children was £664, which is equivalent to £175 per person
  • a couple family with an income in the lowest 20 per cent spent just £339, equivalent to £96 per person.

That’s less than  half what the average family spends.

There are big differences in crucial items of spending, such as health and transport:

  • The poorest fifth of couple families spent about £18 per week on clothing in 2013, compared to an average of £31 for all couple families.
  • There were even bigger differences in spending on transport, where the poorest families spent £29 per week, compared to £92 on average for all families.

What effects can child poverty have?

Living in a poor family can reduce children's expectations of their own lives and lead to a cycle where poverty is repeated from generation to generation.

As adults they are more likely to suffer ill-health, be unemployed or homeless, and become involved in offending, drug and alcohol abuse, and abusive relationships.

In tackling poverty it is crucial to break the cycle. Education is a key element of this, as are initiatives which involve people in developing their skills and finding their own solutions to the problems in their community.

How does Barnardo's help?

Barnardo's works across the UK to transform the lives of vulnerable children.

Read stories and case studies of how we have helped children and families living in poverty »

Find out more about Barnardo's child poverty research and publications or search Barnardo's full publications database.