Number of people in poverty rises by 600,000 – including 300,000 children

  • The latest Government figures show an increase in absolute poverty numbers
  • This happened despite cost of living payments meant to help ease the burden 
  • Charity Turn2us called the rise in impoverished children a ‘national crisis’  

Around 600,000 low-income people fell into absolute poverty in 2023 despite Government cost of living support payments – half of them children.

In response to soaring energy bills and the high cost of living, the Government began making set payments to millions of households from 2022.

But the latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that 600,000 people fell into absolute poverty in 2023, including 300,000 children.

Absolute poverty is when a person is unable to pay for the basics of existence such as food, housing and other bills.

New DWP figures show that there were 12 million people in absolute poverty after paying housing costs in 2023, up from 11.4 million in 2022.

Inexcusable: Half of those in absolute poverty are children, Government figures show

The number of children in absolute poverty rose from 3.3 million to 3.6 million in the same timeframe.

Government cost of living support included the cost of living payment, worth £650 a year, later raised to £900.

Other help was available, such as the disability cost of living payment (£150), pensioner cost of living payment (£300), energy bill discounts of £400 and council tax rebates of £150 for those in bands A to D.

But many charities warned the Government that these payments would not be enough to help many from sliding into poverty.

Claire Atchia McMaster, director of income and external affairs at the anti-poverty charity Turn2us, said: ‘The latest surge in UK child poverty rates should be treated as a national emergency. In a nation as wealthy as ours, it’s unacceptable that millions of children are deprived of essentials like food and clothing, which blocks their path to success.

‘We echo the calls for urgent action to address this crisis. It’s imperative to invest in policies that directly support low-income families, such as increasing support through Universal Credit and removing punitive policies, including the two-child limit.’

Save the Children UK senior child poverty policy adviser Meghan Meek-O’Connor said: ‘These shocking figures should be an urgent wake up call to all of us, especially the UK Government: we cannot go on like this. There is no reason children should be going without food, heating, toys, or beds.’

The DWP said that without the cost of living help then the overall number of low-income people in poverty would have risen to 13.3 million in 2023 – 1.3 million more than it has.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Mel Stride said: ‘I know the last few years have been tough, with the aftershocks of Covid and the war of Ukraine driving up inflation and cost of living pressures. 

‘That’s exactly why we stepped in with the biggest cost of living package in Europe, worth an average of £3,800 per household, and this unprecedented support prevented 1.3 million people from falling into poverty in 2022/23.’