Millions of children live in poverty despite their parents working

The number of children living in poverty in working households in the UK has risen to its largest ever total, a report has found.

There are now 2.1 million impoverished youngsters living in homes where their parents or carers have jobs, according to a study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion report found that the overall number of children living in poverty fell to 3.7 million.

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The Foundation said the number of poverty-stricken children who live in workless households fell to 1.6 million - the lowest figure since 1984.

However, the figures show that those who come from working households account for 58 per cent of the total number of youngsters living in poverty.

Co-author of the most recent report, Tom MacInnes, explained why the figures for child poverty in working households had risen.

"This is due to a number of factors - wages being frozen, the cost of housing increasing, money spent of travelling to work and child minding costs all on the rise."

He said the reason why the number living in poverty in non-working households was less was because there were fewer people out of work than in work.

A recent report by the same foundation painted an even bleaker picture in Scotland with figures showing that not only is Scotland's unemployment rate back to 1996 levels, but poverty is now hitting childless adults harder than pensioners or children. The research, conducted in September this year, also showed that unemployment in Scotland has now surpassed that in England.

It also highlighted the fact that Scotland's child poverty rate increased by 2 per cent in the last year during the recession, compared with just 1 per cent in England.

Mr MacInnes added: "The fall in child poverty among those in out-of-work households came about despite an estimated rise of 60,000 in the number of children living in workless households over the year.

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"So, we can almost certainly say that it is related to the rise in both Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit in 2008. Without the substantial increases in these benefits, the numbers of children in poverty would be around half-a -million higher.

"With more than half of all children in poverty belonging to working families, it is simply not possible to base anti-poverty policies on the idea that work alone is a route out of poverty.

"Child poverty in working households must be given the same focus as out-of-work poverty.

"Until this happens, debates about poverty will continue to be misleading."