Almost 3 million children from working families in poverty

28 March 2019

Figures released by the Government today show a further rise in the number of children from working families living in poverty (1). This is an increase of 833,000 children since 2010.

National Housing Federation analysis shows there are now 847,000 children from working families living in poverty for the sole reason that their rent or mortgage is too expensive. This is a 30% increase – 193,000 children – since 2010.

National Housing Federation analysis shows that since 2010 housing has consistently been a key driver of poverty among working families. And this year the number of children pushed in to poverty before they’ve even paid for housing has shot up by 287,000 children.

As house prices have increased and rents continue to be extortionate, the National Housing Federation is worried children are being pushed even deeper into poverty by their housing costs.

The number of working families has been rising steadily over the past decade and today 86% (2) of families have at least one adult in work; however alongside this rates of poverty among working families have also risen.

From 2010 to 2017 the Government stopped funding new social housing. Since then there has been a drastic fall in the number of homes being built that are affordable for families. Home ownership is now simply unattainable for low income families. This has led to a huge increase in families renting privately, with many unable to afford the high cost of rent, despite being in work.

Research last year by the National Housing Federation and Crisis showed that England needs to build 90,000 homes for social rent every year to meet the current need. Last year only 6,463 homes were built.

The National Housing Federation is calling on the Government to urgently invest more money in social housing at the next spending review.

Social housing is typically 51% of market rent. Analysis shows that the average household in poverty would be around £3,172 a year better off in social housing when compared to renting privately – which is equivalent to more than a year’s worth of food for an average household.

Kate Henderson Chief executive of the National Housing Federation said:

“Year after year hundreds of thousands of more hard working families are falling into poverty – forced to choose between feeding and clothing their children or providing a roof over their heads.

“We are now seeing the full effects of low pay, benefit cuts and the housing crisis. The lack of affordable homes is exacerbating in-work poverty. There could not be a clearer signal to the Government that the country desperately needs more social housing – direct investment in the upcoming spending review is the only way to provide truly affordable homes for these families. This is more crucial than ever in the midst of Brexit uncertainty.”

Graph shows the percentage of children in working households in poverty after housing costs increasing from 19 percent in 2010 to 24 percent in 2018 and before housing costs increasing from 13% in 2010 to 17% in 2018.

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Notes for Editors

The National Housing Federation is the voice of affordable housing in England. We believe that everyone should have the home they need at a price they can afford. That’s why we represent the work of housing associations and campaign for better housing.

Our members provide over two and a half million homes for six million people. And each year they invest in a diverse range of neighbourhood projects that help create strong, vibrant communities.


1 - In-work child poverty has increased every year since 2010/11 by a total of 193,000 children. 30% of this increase is down to housing costs.
2 - ONS Labour Force Survey April-June 2018.
3 - Up to 56,136 / 5.5% of households in the sample (in poverty and paying market rent) may be impacted by the benefit cap in 2018 (based on their circumstances in 2015/16), which has not been accounted for in this analysis. These households would retain a larger proportion of the rent saving.
4 - ONS, Family Spending in the UK: financial year ending March 2017.