Globe, United Kingdom

More than half a million children in London are poor

The majority of those children live in Tower Hamlets, where 42% of the population survives on 10 pounds a day per person. Such poverty is adjacent to the economic prosperity of neighborhoods such as Kensington.


niños pobres 2Olga Briasco


In the United Kingdom there are 3.6 million children living in poverty; a statistic avoided in David Cameron’s speeches; more concerned with showing the economic wellbeing of the country.

Not much more is being done about this by Boris Johnson in London, where the inequality is becoming more acute; 10% of the wealthiest citizens have 273 times more than the poorest 10% according to United Nations data in 2010.

niños pobres 5This increase of poverty in the British capital has been brought about by, among other things, the European economic recession, high housing costs coupled with high transport and child care costs have combined to pressure low income families in London.

This is confirmed by the child poverty network in London, 4in10, which holds that many of the families on low incomes in London struggle to meet the costs of paying for rent, food and electricity bills.

In particular, 37% of children in London (592.000) live in poverty, 12% more than in the rest of Great Britain. Amongst them, 234,000 live in severe poverty.

CARLY ROSE SONENCLARAde Sofola, 4in10 Strategic Manager, explained that poverty in the UK is defined within the Child Poverty Act and the children in London classified as living in poverty live in households where the income is less than 60% of the median income. This is the agreed international measure for ‘poverty’ that is used throughout the European Union.

In their recent report, No Space at Home: Overcrowding in London, 4in10 explores some of the impacts of overcrowding on families (often living in poverty) in London.

Shortage of resources and rent inflation has caused an increase of 18% of children growing up in overcrowded conditions. According to this report, today there are 120,000 homes whose number of occupants outnumbers the available space.

From the point of view of the study, this reality will get worse after the 1st of April when the austerity measures will come into force such as an occupancy rate per room (‘bedroom tax’), social security benefit cuts and the abolition of some social services.

niños pobres 16To talk about this part of the population that David Cameron doesn’t wish to discuss with the rest of the world, Sofola attends The Prisma headquarters in London.

What is the poverty map of London?

Poverty is more concentrated in the inner London boroughs. Of these, Tower Hamlets is the borough with the highest level of child poverty (42%). This is followed by Islington (34%), Barking & Dagenham (31%) Newham (32%) and Westminster (30%). On the other end of the scale is Richmond (7%).

What is the main problem today?

niños pobres 6Currently it is estimated that over 391,000 children -one in four-live in overcrowded conditions. In just three years the number of children who have to live in an overcrowded home, often sleeping in the same bed as their siblings or with their parents has increased by 18%. This is a problem because, not having a space for themselves can lead to a number of issues including a negative impact on education (children can find it difficult to find space to do their homework or room to study), poor hygiene and space also negatively affects their health, since infectious illnesses spread more easily in crowded conditions.

The nutrition is another problem?

niños pobres 15Yes. 4in10 has received information from our members that an increasing number of families are turning to food banks to provide the essential food ítems that their families need. There has been research from the London Assembly that shows teachers who say that students come to school hungry and unable to study. 61% of the teachers said that they brought some food at their own expense for their students.

What 4in10 asks the Government to do to stop this?

niños pobres 13Through the campaign “No Space at Home” is asking for a commitment to reducing by half by 2020 the number of children growing up in overcrowded conditions, without access to adequate space for sleep, study and play. Now we need a more focused and ambitious target to achieve a significant reduction in the number of children living in overcrowded homes.

Difficult times to invest in “social assistance”.

These are difficult financial times but we can tackle key issues of child Poverty and impact of overcrowding and food Poverty by setting up the right policy framework and investing efficiently in social assistance.


(Translated by Evelyn Dench – Email:

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