The shocking number of Devon children living in poverty

More than a third of all children are living in poverty in some parts of Devon – with those living in Torridge, Torbay and North Devon being the hardest hit.

In one part of East Devon, a shocking 34% of children are estimated to be living in poverty.

Charlotte Vowles www.devonlive.com

New Government figures have revealed that a massive 37,485 children in Devon were living below the breadline in March 2019. This was even before the cost of housing was taken into account.

Some 27,337 of those children were living in poverty despite one or more of their parents working – 73% of the total.

The overall number means that around one in every seven children in Devon is living in poverty (15%) – although that figure is higher in some areas than others.

For Devon, the proportion stands at:

  • 20% in Torridge
  • 17% in Torbay and North Devon
  • 16% in West Devon,
  • 15% in South Hams and Plymouth
  • 14% in Mid Devon and Teignbridge
  • 13% in East Devon
  • 11% in Exeter

Analysis of hyperlocal data – areas with a population of around 1,500 people each – also shows that the situation is even more stark in particular neighbourhoods.

In one part of East Devon, a shocking 34% of children are estimated to be living in poverty.

See the [ONS] map here.

Use our interactive widget to see the proportion of children living in low income families in your neighbourhood: [You need to access this through the devonlive web site]

Charities have also warned that child poverty is only going to get worse because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Judith Cavanagh, coordinator of the End Child Poverty coalition, said: “These figures from Government show the extent to which we have been failing children in poverty even before the outbreak of coronavirus. 

“We have not all entered this crisis equally. Children in poverty will be among the worst affected by the crisis as households see their income hit further, through loss of employment and the increased costs of staying home – such as food, fuel bills and supporting home schooling. 

“Policies such as the two-child limit on children’s benefits and the benefit cap have made a significant contribution to the rise in child poverty over the past five years. 

“As more families now have to turn to the benefits system as a result of coronavirus we are urging the Government to scrap those policies, which they argued acted as incentives to get people into work.

“We would also like the Government to introduce an immediate increase to child benefit of £10 per child as a fast and effective means of getting support to low income families. 

“Children in low income families have been failed over the past 5 years. Our response to Covid-19 must not fail them again.”

The figures include teenagers up to the age of 19 who are still living at home with their parents or carers and are in full time education or training. 

The proportions are estimates based on DWP figures on the number of children living in families with a household income of less than 60% of the UK average as of March 2019, and population estimates from the Office for National Statistics as of mid-2018. 

They can only offer an approximation of the proportion of children living in poverty – but the DWP have confirmed that they do give a broad indication of local areas with a very high or very low proportion.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We are doing whatever it takes to support the lowest paid families through these unprecedented times, implementing an extensive package of measures to do so.”

Torridge District Council has been approached for comment.