Key facts and figures

Below are answers to some of the questions most frequently asked by journalists. You can also download a media briefing produced in advance of the government's 2013 Budget Statement (see top right); and a list of the cuts affecting family budgets since 2010 and the dates from which the took, or will take effect.

Q: What is the UK poverty line?

A: There are four measures on child poverty used by the Government for its tarets under the Child Poverty Act 2010. The most commonly reported is the relative low income line. In 2011/12 the amount of money below which, after adjusting for size and composition of household and after housing costs, a family was characterised as poor according to the relative low income poverty line was as follows:

  • £264 per week (£13,765 per year) for lone parent with two children aged 5 years, 14 years
  • £357 per week (£18,615 per year) for couple with two children aged 5 years, 14 years

However, it is important to not just report on the relative low income line, but to also report on the other three measures in the Child Poverty Act. These are (1) absolute low income, (2) material deprivation, and (3) persistent low income. The latest figures can always be found in the government's annual publication Households Below Average Incomes. It is also important to recognise that many families are living a long way below these poverty income lines.

Q: How many children are in poverty in the UK?

A: The latest available figures (for 2010/11) show that under the relative low income measure there are:

  • 3.6 million children living in poverty (after housing costs)
  • 2.3 million children living in poverty (before housing costs).

Children in poverty 1970-2015


Q: What is happening to child poverty now?

A: All recent analysis shows that child poverty is now likely to be increasing dramatically since the last official figures for 2010/11. Analysis conducted for Child Poverty Action Group by Landman Economics in March 2013 has projected an increase in absolute child poverty of 600,000 children between 2010 and 2015. For full details, see our press release from March 2013.

Q: Before housing costs, or after housing costs?

A: CPAG prefers to report the ‘after housing costs’ (AHC) figure where possible, because it is a better guide to the number of households who experience poverty. The cost of housing is unavoidable and essential. People’s standard of living is dependent on the disposable incomes they have after paying for their housing. Where low incomes entitle people to Housing Benefit it is treated as their income BHC and a rise in this benefit is treated as higher income BHC even though it only reflects a rise in housing costs and not in people’s disposable incomes. This makes a large difference to poverty statistics in those parts of the country, particularly London, where housing costs are very high, and many more households are found to be in poverty there after housing costs are deducted.

All the figures on this page are from the most recent HBAI survey in 2009/10 unless otherwise stated. HBAI includes figures before and after housing costs: we use the ‘after housing costs’ figures.