Unfortunately, your browser is too old to work on this website. Please upgrade your browser
Skip to main content

Key points

  • The areas with the most child poverty have over a third of children living in poverty and rates have been increasing in these areas since 2014/15.
  • Child poverty rates are higher in urban areas generally, but areas such as the North East of England and Wales also have a high prevalence. 
  • There has been an increase in child poverty over the past 4 years.

Poverty can affect a person’s health when their financial resources are insufficient to meet their basic living needs, such as adequate heating, appropriate clothing, or adequate nutrition. Poor health as a child can lead to longer-term poor health, while living in poverty as a child can affect other determinants of health, such as education, which can have a longer-term impact on health.

This chart shows the proportion of children living in poverty in each local authority in the UK in 2020/21. Child poverty is defined as children living in households with net income below 60% of the median, using out-of-work benefit and Tax Credit data. 

Child poverty is highest in urban areas, but there are also non-urban or less urban areas with high child poverty, such  in the North East and Wales. 

  • In the seven local authorities with the highest child poverty, a third of children or more were living in poverty in 2020/21 (42.4% in Middlesbrough, 38% in Bradford, 36.3% in Pendle, 36.2% in Oldham, 35.6% in Birmingham, 34% in Blackburn and 33.4% in Kingston upon Hull). These areas also had some of the largest increases in child poverty between 2014/15 and 2020/21. 
  • The local authorities with the lowest child poverty, however, had much smaller increases, or even reductions in some. This means that inequalities in child poverty have been rising between 2014/15 and 2020/21, and further local policy responses are needed to prevent these inequalities increasing. 

Child poverty patterns vary across different geographical areas, both across and within them. The prevalence of child poverty varies in regions and cities, and also within local authorities, although this data does not allow this comparison.

Many of the means to address child poverty operate at a national level, but central decision-making is leaving deprived local authorities struggling with funding reductions. The variation in child poverty prevalence calls for further policy responses at a local level.

  • Poverty is measured here as an individual living in a household with a net income (as measured for tax credit purposes) below 60% of that year’s median. 
  • Income is adjusted for household size to reflect economies of scale. For example, a household of four needs more income for the same standard of living as a household of one, but not four times as much. 
  • These statistics are based on HMRC analysis of households receiving Tax Credit. 
  • This measure does not consider housing costs, so provides a slightly different geography of poverty than might be expected from national-level statistics. In relative terms, this reduces rates of poverty in London, where housing costs are highest. This also raises the relative position of local authorities in Northern Ireland, which have a relatively small gap between levels of poverty measured before and after housing costs.

Source: Department for Work and Pensions, Stat-Xplore, Children in Low Income Families; Office for National Statistics, Estimates for the population of the UK

Related analysis

Related long read

Explore the topics

Local authority dashboard
Explore data for your local authority and neighbourhood

Health inequalities

Money and resources
Poverty | Income | Debt

Quality | Unemployment | Security

Affordability | Quality | Stability | Security

Active travel | Social exclusion | Trends

Family, friends and community
Personal relationships | Community cohesion

Our surroundings
Pollution | Green space | Safety | Amenities

Coming soon

This is part of Evidence hub: What drives health inequalities?

Data, insights and analysis exploring how the circumstances in which we live shape our health
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more