Are four million children living in poverty?

Published: 12th May 2017

In brief


Four million children live below the poverty line.


This is correct for relative poverty in the UK, measured after housing costs in 2015/16. It’s a smaller number using other measures of poverty.

“We have four million children who live below the poverty line.”

David Hayman, 11 May 2017

There were estimated to be around four million children in the UK living in relative poverty in 2015/16 once housing costs were taken into account. That’s around 30% of all children.

Relative poverty looks at households with less than 60% of the median income that year. There are other ways to measure poverty, though.

One is to look at households with 60% less than the median income in 2010/11, accounting for inflation. That’s known officially as ‘absolute poverty’.

Looking at it this way around 3.7 million children were living in poverty, or around 27%.

If we look at poverty before housing costs are considered, as government statisticians recommend, around 2.7 million children were in relative poverty in 2015/16, or around 20%. Around 2.3 million were in absolute poverty, or around 17%.

Correction 15 May 2017

Our conclusion originally said the four million figure applied to relative poverty "before housing costs". This should have said "after housing costs".

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


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