Thanet child poverty rates second highest in south of England

Child poverty figures

Thanet has the second highest child poverty rates in the south of England and the highest in Kent, according to a report released by Loughborough University on behalf of coalition End Child Poverty.

According to the research some 37% of youngsters aged under 16 on the isle are living below the poverty line after housing costs – equating to 9943 children. The ‘poverty line’ is defined as household income (adjusted to account for household size,) that  is less than 60% of the median income.

In 2014/15 there were 34.9% of children in Thanet defined as living in poverty (after housing costs) compared to 37% in 2018/19. Data at ward level has not been released in the Loughborough report.

The new analysis shows child poverty rates have been relatively stable across the South as a whole, but they also show areas where the combination of low income and relatively high housing costs are creating levels of child poverty that are as high as the hardest hit parts of the country.

Separate data from Kent County Council shows 21.4% of Thanet children -5745- being defined as living in absolute low income households (before housing costs) – the highest level in Kent. KCC data does include some ward detail and shows almost half of the wards in Thanet (47.8%) and Dover (42.9%) are within the 20% of wards in Kent with the highest proportion of children in absolute low income families.

Top ten wards in Kent with highest percentage children in absolute low income families, 2018/19

Conditions are likely to have worsened in the last six months as the effects of the pandemic, including redundancies and shorter working hours, bite.

Cliftonville West ward councillor Alan Currie (pictured below) said: “When I recently helped out for a few months with Sharon Goodyers Our Kitchen free food deliveries I saw child poverty in Cliftonville West first hand, I would say three quarters of the households I delivered to were families with young children, I have been told that 70% of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work but this will change as the COVID situation and increased unemployment really takes effect as furlough schemes end and businesses are forced to let workers go. This will especially affect many in our area who work part time and on zero hour contracts.

“This will further increase child poverty in our area and rent arrears are also becoming more frequent, I believe the time has come for the government to seriously consider a basic income, especially for families on a low income with young children. Failure to address child poverty is one of the costliest mistakes a government can make, especially in a country that is still one of the most affluent in the world.”

County Councillor Karen Constantine added: “These figures are absolutely shocking. We know that child poverty blights lives. Children growing up in poverty are far less likely to keep pace with their more wealthy peers. As adults they will earn less, achieve less educationally and suffer poorer health. It is very concerning that social mobility in the UK has ground to a halt.

“Kent County Council has a responsibility to ‘level up’ across Kent to to ensure economic prosperity for all. Everyone should have an equal life chance. That’s clearly not the case for thousands of children in many parts of Kent. I’ll be calling on Kent County Council to do more, in particular with the potential for Covid to further compound poverty I’ll be requesting a child poverty ‘Select Committee’. This will provide the detailed insight we need to improve and focus Kent County Council policy to start to eradicate this blight.

“We must stop this trend and our County Council must now take urgent action. “

Buttle UK – which provides financial support direct to families and young people in crisis – has seen an increase of 145% in spend across the South since lockdown started compared with the same period the previous year. The charity funds a range of families’ costs through its Chances for Children grants. Since the crisis began, the most commonly funded items in the South have been: IT equipment (£82,956), educational toys and books (£26,008), clothing (£24,616) and home appliances (£21,324).

End Child Poverty, a coalition of organisations,  is calling for an urgent Government plan to end child poverty including keeping the £20 uplift in Universal Credit introduced at the start of the pandemic, which the Government has indicated will end in April 2021; end the cap and the two-child limit on benefits and extend free school meals to all families in receipt of Universal Credit and those with no option for public funds.

Emergency fund

Buttle UK has now established the COVID-19 Direct Emergency Response for Children and Young People Fund in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund and others, which delivers £2 million in National Lottery grants to support vulnerable children and young people, and up to £5m in total by March 31 2021.

The coalition is calling on the Government to recognise the scale of the problem and its impact on children’s lives. They are urging the Government to set out an ambitious plan to tackle child poverty encompassing not only social security spending but the high cost of housing and childcare and investment in children’s services.

Joseph Howes, CEO of Buttle UK and coalition partner saidd: “These new figures allow us to understand the true picture and unacceptably high levels of child poverty at the start of lockdown in the south.   With the Government putting in new measures to control COVID-19, we need to brace ourselves for further bad news and what could be a massive increase in child poverty and ultimately a lost generation.

“Not all families were the same going into this crisis and they will certainly not be the same coming out. As we attempt a recovery from the crisis, there are going to be some very big challenges facing the most vulnerable sectors in society.  Now is the time for the Government to take bold action and work with coalition members to ensure child centric strategies are at the heart of plans for the recovery”.

Anna Feuchtwang, Chair of End Child Poverty, said: “The Government can be in no doubt about the challenge it faces if it is serious about ‘levelling up’ disadvantaged parts of the country. This new data reveals the true extent of the hardship experienced by families on low incomes – the overwhelming majority of which were working households before the pandemic. The children affected are on a cliff edge, and the pandemic will only sweep them further into danger.

“The Prime Minister must urgently admit to the true extent of child poverty in our country rather than resorting to his own inaccurate statistics. An ambitious plan to   put this shameful situation right would be transformational for millions of children. “As a matter of urgency, we are calling on the Chancellor not to go ahead with planned cuts to Universal Credit which would see families lose out on £1000 a year. Given today’s data, this cut is unconscionable.’

The top South constituencies with the highest increases in AHC (after housing costs) child poverty 2014/15 -2018/19. (BHC = Before housing costs)

Local authority% of children below 60% median income AHC
AHCBHC%age point difference (2014/15 – 2018/19
UK Average30%20%10%
Isle of Wight32.7%20.4%12.3%



  1. If you know anybody struggling please advice them to visit us at OUR SHOP at 51 High Street in Margate (next to kfc ) and join our food club run by Sharon Goodyer to buy affordable HEALTHY food..thanks to the thanet council for finding us a high street site and to our many volunteers

  2. Britain has the sixth biggest economy in the world.(Recently the fifth but France has now overtaken).
    There is no reason to have any of these large pockets of poverty.
    But wages are low and so are Benefits.
    That is the result of political decisions by central government.
    They could raise minimum wages sufficiently. But they don’t. They could raise Benefit levels sufficiently. But they don’t.
    They could control rent levels as used to be done. But they don’t.
    They could build far more social housing for affordable rents. But they don’t.
    In fairness, though, they don’t have to do any of these things because they get elected anyway!!
    “The poor can never be punished enough!” as a philosopher once said, sadly.

    • Keyfogs – please explain to me where all the money is coming from to raise wages and raise benefits ?

      How much more tax are you willing to pay in order to increase benefits ?

      How much more are you willing to pay for your weekly groceries to give shop workers a pay rise ?

      When are you going to redistribute some of your wealth to fulfil these ideals ?

      • The world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet’s population, reveals a new report from Oxfam today ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. Perhaps this is where the answer lies. Collecting a few taxes from the world’s richest could go some way to addressing poverty and inequality. That’s where redistribution of wealth could start. No-one needs so much wealth.

      • My wealth!?
        I worked most of my life and have now achieved “average”.
        If taxes were raised for those over ,say, £80K per year and all the tax avoidance loopholes like offshore Bank accounts in the Cayman Islands were closed, we would have more than enough.
        And I would have to earn 4 X my joint income with my wife to have to pay any of it!
        No, I don’t have any problem calling for income tax increases for the better-off as I will never, ever, get anywhere near that status.And nor will over 90% of the population.

  3. Its all to do with proper paying full time jobs, the sooner Manston airport reopens creating many jobs the better for the whole of Thanet.

    • Nonsense Kapo! So you think Thanet has hundreds of unemployed aircraft engine fitters, and Air Traffic Controllers just sitting around waiting for a job at Manston? No, these will have to move here, but they won’t want to buy a property in the CT11 postal area, because people living there will have their lives destroyed by low flying elderly cargo planes flying in over Ramsgate Harbour at less than 300 meters high, two or more an hour!

      This will destroy jobs, and the lives of thousands of people living under the flights paths It will be an economic disaster, and for what so our two Conservative MP’s get re-elected, neither of whom live in Thanet! Its a disgrace these two chancers have not done anything about wealth creation in Thanet, but if Manston re-opens it will create even more unemployment in the hospitality industry. Thankfully the Judicial Review to stop Manston, has been given the go ahead, and some £85,000 has been promised to Crowd Fund it, but more is needed!

      • what a load of nonsense Dumpton that like saying Pfizer only employed
        scientists, 2000 people used to work there in every trade. Any large employer would create wealth in an area. You are obviously very selfish.

  4. The use of the phrase “child poverty” is both too emotive and misleading. It conjures up images of Victorian Britain, street urchins and Oliver Twist.

    How many of these children are living six to a room and having only one meal of bread and gruel a day ?

    If children don’t have their own mobile phone and their own TV they think they are living in poverty. Benefits are designed to support people to live a basic standard – in my view that does not run to a mobile phone for every member of the family, nor a TV in every room – let alone a 60 inch one for the lounge !

    Many people who class themselves as “poor” complain that they have to live on takeaways. Is that because they cannot afford to go and eat in restaurants ? Whatever happened to buying cheap fresh or frozen ingredients from the supermarket and cooking at home ? It costs a fraction of the price.

    • Poverty isn’t measured by what children think it is. The article states that it’s 60% of the median wage. Poverty is far more than lack of things. It’ inadequate housing, lack of proper nutrition and lack of aspiration and opportunity, not things that children measure.

    • Glen – So are you saying that Labour eradicated poverty and Conservatives re-introduced it ?

      Surely if Labour were that good they would never have been voted out . . .

  5. Ah such unfortunate, dispiriting comments here, as usual. Listen to Erik Satie – Gnossienne No.1 And then you’ll get a true feel for the sad state of the world we live in today.

  6. Predictable comments. Pretty much summed up as “Let’s charge more tax on people who earn more than me”

    Once the discussion moves towards everyone paying a little more regardless of their income the debate suddenly goes silent.

  7. 1965: CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group) formed.
    1997: UK had the highest rate of child poverty in the industrialised world.
    1999: Blair: ‘Our historic aim will be for ours to be the first generation to end child poverty forever, and it will take a generation. It is a twenty-year mission, but I believe it can be done.’
    2020: ‘End Child Poverty, a coalition of organisations, is calling for an urgent Government plan to end child poverty..’.

  8. Any views on this Craig Mackinlay……….

    This is where that money for the Turner should have been spent.

    Perhaps, the elite Tory party members (boris, reese mogg, cummings, etc) should have to live like these people are forced to for 6 months with there children in the same conditions and level of household income with the the same bleak oppertunities, then things might change.

    There is no excuse for any government allowing this in modern society.

  9. That’s a lot of children who are disadvantaged. We should also remember the effects on mental health for people on low incomes or with precarious income. We already have seen a suicide epidemic in Thanet due to austerity, and now thigs are worsening even further. I agree with Alan Currie that some sort of basic income system needs to be worked out. Something must be done about households in debt too. How are people supposed to pay off debts when they are comepeting with thousands of other newly-unemployed people for the same few jobs?

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