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More than one million key worker children live in poverty

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

More than one million children of key workers are living in poverty in the UK, according to research by the TUC.

In some regions, more than a quarter of key worker children live in poverty, the study found.

Key worker families in the North East have the highest rate of child poverty at 29 per cent, followed by London with 27 per cent, the West Midlands with 25 per cent and Yorkshire and the Humber with 25 per cent.

Low pay and insecure hours, which often coincide with occupations such as care workers, delivery drivers or supermarket staff, are factors driving key worker family poverty, according to the TUC.

High housing costs further reduce keyworker family budgets for essentials like groceries and utility bills and support through Universal Credit is not enough to guarantee families avoid poverty, the study said.

The TUC warned current government policies – including plans to cut Universal Credit by £20 per week in October – will drive up child poverty rates.

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, said: “Every key worker deserves a decent standard of living for their family. But too often their hard work is not paying off like it should. And they struggle to keep up with the basic costs of family life.

“The prime minister has promised to ‘build back fairer’. He should start with our key workers. They put themselves in harm’s way to keep the country going through the pandemic. Now, we must be there for them too.

“This isn’t just about doing right thing by key workers. If we put more money in the pockets of working families, their spending will help our businesses and high streets recover. It’s the fuel in the tank that our economy needs.”

Support needed for key worker families

The TUC is calling on the government to guarantee decent living standards for key worker families by:
 Raising the national minimum wage to £10 per hour immediately.
 Ending the freeze on public service workers’ pay and give all public service workers a decent pay rise.
 Funding the public sector so that all outsourced workers are paid at least the real Living Wage and get parity with directly employed staff.
 Cancelling the £20 cut to Universal Credit, which is set to hit low-income families in October, and set out plans to increase child benefit above inflation each year across the parliament.