Rising child poverty linked to 10,000 more children in care

By Emily McGarvey
BBC News

  • Published
Young girl sitting in bedroomImage source, Science Photo Library

Rising poverty may be contributing to thousands more children going into care in England, research suggests.

The University of Liverpool study links a rise in child poverty to more than 10,000 extra children being taken into local authority care over five years.

Growing rates of child poverty were found to be largely caused by cuts to welfare support, researchers suggested.

The government says it continues to prioritise tackling deprivation and is targeting more funds at those in need.

Researchers compared government data on the number of children in low-income families with rates of children entering care in England.

The study, published in the Lancet Public Health, estimated that rising poverty and the pressures that placed on families led to an additional 10,351 children being removed from their homes between 2015 and 2020.

It calculates the additional short-term costs for councils at £1.4 billion.

The study also estimates that nearly 23,000 more children were put on child protection plans and nearly 52,000 more children were identified as in need.

The study found that local authorities covering deprived areas were disproportionately affected, causing deepening inequalities.

The worst-hit areas have been north-east England and parts of north-west England.

Researchers said their findings "underscore the need for an approach to child protection that explicitly addresses the socio-economic conditions of families' lives".

'Stark warning'

Last month a review of children's social care in England said the government must address child poverty rates and other factors that push youngsters into care.

A government spokesperson said: "Last week, the Chancellor announced a new £15 billion support package targeted towards millions of low-income households, bringing the total cost of living support to £37 billion this year.

"We have provided £6 billion in additional funding for councils to address pressures arising from the pandemic such as children's social care, ensuring the most vulnerable children and families have access to this extra support."

The Child Poverty Action Group described the study's findings as a "stark warning".

Its chief executive, Alison Garnham, said the need for an approach to tackle poverty that is "more than one-off emergency payments could not be clearer".

She said that protecting the wellbeing and life chances of children "should be the nation's number one priority".

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