Child poverty is on course for the biggest rise in a generation, reversing years of progress that began in the late 1990s, leading charities and independent experts claimed on Saturday.
The stark prognosis comes before the release of government figures which experts believe will show a clear increase for first time since the start of the decade.
Key policy decisions in the second half of the last parliament, including the introduction of the bedroom tax and cuts in benefits between 2013 and last year, are blamed for fuelling the rising number of families whose income is below 60% of the UK average – the definition of relative poverty.
Calculations from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) have suggested that progress between the late 1990s and 2010 has been reversed and that the number of children living in relative poverty rose from 2.3 million in 2013 to 2.6 million in 2014.
The Child Poverty Action Group says that with the government committed to implementing a further £12bn of benefit cuts in a new round of austerity, the problem of children living in poverty looks certain to grow for several more years.
Tens of thousands of people joined an anti-austerity march through central London on Saturday, Alison Garnham, the charity’s chief executive, said ministers were failing too many children in low-income families.
“The government can no longer claim that deficit reduction is about protecting children’s futures now that it’s being made to confront a child poverty crisis, with the biggest rise in a generation now expected of its own making,” she said.
“With child poverty expected to rise by nearly a third in the decade to 2020 as a result of its policies, it’s clear the government’s approach is failing.”