Child poverty

Poverty can be defined and measured in multiple ways. In the UK, it is most commonly used in relation to relative poverty, ie when an individual’s “resources are so seriously below those commanded by the average individual or family that they are, in effect, excluded from ordinary living patterns, customs and activities” (Townsend, 1979).

Poverty has significant and long lasting effects on children and young people. It affects their ability to join in and impacts negatively on emotional and physical health, wellbeing and future life opportunities.

Tackling child poverty has been a key concern of social policy think tanks, charities, Local Authorities and Government over many years.  The impact of child poverty is well documented, with children living in poverty at increased risk of poor education outcomes, poorer health, poor housing and social exclusion.

The local picture

In Calderdale, child poverty rates appear to have stayed fairly static in the last five years.

According to Government child poverty statistics (based on the number of children living in families in receipt of Child Tax Credit whose reported income is less than 60% of the median income, or are in receipt of Income Support or Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance (HM Revenue and Customs)), around 8,200 (20%) children under the age of 16 in Calderdale live in poverty. This figure is similar to the Yorkshire and Humber average, and is significantly worse than the England average (Public Health England (PHE) Public Health Outcome Framework (PHOF):  Children in poverty (under 16s) ). The 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) indicates a slightly higher figure, with the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) suggesting that around 21% (8,600) children live in income deprived families.

(IDACI is the proportion of all children aged 0 to 15 years living in income deprived families. Income deprived families are defined as families that receive Income Support, or income-based Jobseekers Allowance, or income-based Employment and Support Allowance, or Pension Credit (Guarantee), or families not in receipt of these benefits but in receipt of Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit with an equivalised income (excluding housing benefit) below 60 per cent of the national median before housing costs. Shrinkage was applied to construct the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index score IMD 2015 population based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) Mid year population estimates 2012.)

Child poverty varies considerable by ward:

Child poverty by ward

Information on a number of indicators related to child poverty are available in the PHE Child poverty profile for Calderdale .

The number of children claiming free school meals (FSM) can be used as a proxy indicator for material disadvantage in school aged children. In Calderdale, around 16.0% of primary school pupils and 13.6% of secondary school pupils are eligible for and claiming free school meals, compared to 15.6% and 13.9% respectively in England.

Current provision

A number of local programmes and initiatives contribute in some way to tackling child poverty. These include:

  • Children and Young People Early Years project;
  • Elland Work Club;
  • Grow Big;
  • Appetite for Success;
  • Crisis Pregnancy Care;
  • Fair Schools project.

The Child Poverty Act 2010 places a statutory responsibility on local authorities and wider delivery partners to work together to tackle child poverty, and to produce a child poverty strategy to minimise the effects of poverty on children and families, and to meet local need: Child and family poverty strategy for Calderdale 2013-18 .

Calderdale's Child Poverty Taskforce (CPTF) was formed in 2014. One aim of the taskforce is to ensure that there is a consensus on how we tackle child poverty in Calderdale. The CPTF vision is:

"Our ambition is for Calderdale to be a place where our children grow up free from deprivation, disadvantage, and where birth and social background do not prevent them from achieving their full potential."

User Views

There are no user views at present.

Unmet needs

Evidence suggests that inequalities in children's outcomes in Calderdale persist, and are related to poverty.

In Calderdale, 43% of children claiming free school meals have a good level of development at the end of Reception class, compared to 65% of all pupils (DfE 2014-15, available from PHE PHOF 1.02i: School readiness: the percentage of children achieving a good level of development at the end of reception ).

Less than a third (31.5%) of Calderdale pupils claiming free school meals achieve 5 or more GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and Mathematics, compared to 58.2% of all pupils (DfE 2013-14, available from Neighbourhood Statistics Service (NeSS)).

Projected future need

The child population in Calderdale is expected to increase (ONS, 2015). The young age structure of the South Asian population mean that there are likely to be more South Asian children in future years. In Calderdale, this group is particularly concentrated in the most deprived wards, and particularly in Park ward.

Proposed changes in definition and targets relating to child poverty (see Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), 2015: Government to strengthen child poverty measure ) mean that in the future, it may be difficult to accurately assess improvement in child poverty rates locally.

(On 1 July 2015, following a lengthy consultation, the Government announced that it would be changing the indicators and targets in the Child Poverty Act. The main child poverty measure in the United Kingdom (and the rest of Europe) is currently a relative income measure: children are considered to be poor if they live in households with income below 60% of the household median (adjusted for family size). As the measure is based on the median (middle) income, rather than the mean average, it is not affected by rich people getting richer – a common misperception. But if the middle income changes (and that of lower income households does not) the number of people counted as poor will change. The Government propose to replace that measure with a set of broader measures of life chances, introducing a statutory duty to report on:

  • the proportion of children living in workless households as well as long term workless households; and
  • the educational attainment of all pupils and the most disadvantaged pupils at 16 years.)

Key considerations linked to the known evidence base (what works?)

For a review of United Kingdom and international evidence of what works in addressing child poverty, see What works in supporting children and young people to overcome persistent poverty? A review of UK and international literature , Nelson et al, 2013.

References and further information


Further information

More information on children and young people can be found in the Further resources .

The Government has put together indicators of child poverty, as identified by the Child Poverty Unit: Child poverty basket of local indicators .

Barnardo's collate national statistics around child poverty: Child poverty statistics and facts .

End Child Poverty produce estimates of child poverty for local areas: Poverty in your area .

A number of reports have aimed to capture the voice of people living in poverty, with key documents including:


Donna Green, Programme Manager - Young People, Public Health, Calderdale Council;

edited by Naomi Marquis, Public Health Intelligence Officer, Public Health, Calderdale Council.

May 2016.

See also