Wednesday 21 August 2019 / 12:57 PM Poverty

Over a million children have gone hungry this summer, official government figures reveal

Millions of children across England have gone hungry over the summer holidays, government figures suggest. This follows a new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England that revealed that thousands of children in England are growing up in shipping containers, office blocks, and B&Bs.

The worst affected are the over 1.25 million children who are eligible for free school meals (FSM) who have missed out over the holidays.

Nearly three million more were at risk of going hungry over summer. Government figures show that 30 per cent of children (over 4.1 million) across England are living in poverty, in families that may not be able to afford adequate food.

Analysis from the Trussell Trust has revealed a 20 per cent increase in the number of food parcels that were given to children in the summer holidays in 2018 compared to the previous year.

Current government funding on holiday hunger supported less than four per cent of all children who are currently eligible for free school meals, and left over 1.2 million of those children with no additional support over the holidays.

The worst affected regions are London, where nearly 225,000 children are eligible for FSM and 740,000 are growing up in poverty, the North West, with over 200,000 eligible for FSM and 490,000 in poverty, and the South East, where over 140,000 are eligible for FSM and 490,000 are in poverty.

Steve Reed MP, Labour’s Shadow Children and Families Minister, said:

“Millions of children have faced a summer of hunger after years of inaction by a government that has let child poverty grow into a crisis.

“No country that loves its children would allow children to spend the summer going hungry instead of enjoying their holidays.

“These figures should be a wake-up call for the government to take urgent action to tackle the scandalous levels of child poverty in our country. The next Labour government will end the cuts and make Britain’s children their priority.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

  • Government data Schools, pupils, and their characteristics show that across the country there are over 1.25 million pupils eligible for and claiming free school meals.
Region Pupils eligible for and claiming FSM
England                                                       1,275,463
NORTH EAST                                                              82,988
NORTH WEST                                                            201,836
YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER                                                            145,893
EAST MIDLANDS                                                            100,137
WEST MIDLANDS                                                            168,235
EAST OF ENGLAND                                                            109,734
LONDON                                                            224,767
INNER LONDON                                                            104,606
OUTER LONDON                                                            120,161
SOUTH EAST                                                            144,638
SOUTH WEST                                                              97,235

Source: Schools, pupils and their characteristics: January 2019:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/schools-pupils-and-their-characteristics-january-2019

See: Local authority and regional tables, table 4c

  • Government data Households Below Average Income shows that the three-year average of children in relative poverty, defined as below 60 per cent of median income, was 4.1 million on average from 2015/16 to 2017/18.
Region/Country (3-year average) 15/16-17/18
  England 3.57
NORTH EAST 0.16
NORTH WEST 0.49
YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER 0.33
EAST MIDLANDS 0.29
WEST MINDLANDS 0.45
EAST OF ENGLAND 0.33
LONDON 0.74
INNER LONDON 0.29
OUTER LONDON 0.45
SOUTH EAST 0.49
SOUTH WEST 0.29
WALES 0.16
SCOTLAND 0.25
NORTHERN IRELAND 0.12
All children (millions)6 4.1