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Labour Party research find more than half of Black children in UK live in poverty as price of living is set to soar

Labour Party research find more than half of Black children in UK live in poverty as price of living is set to soar

Labour party research finds Black children at least twice as likely to grow up poor, compared to white children.

Over the last decade the total number of black children in poor households more than doubled – although that increase is partly explained by the overall size of the cohort increasing too. The proportion of black children living in poverty went up from 42% in 2010-11 to 53% in 2019-20, the most recent year for which the data is available.

The figures were released to the Guardian by the Labour party, which described them as evidence of “Conservative incompetence and denialism about the existence of structural racism”. The party produced its figures by cross-referencing data from the Department for Work and Pensions’ reports on households below average income with population statistics.

The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, has already committed the party to passing a new race equality act, if elected, to tackle structural racism. Further details of what this would entail are expected to be fleshed out in 2022. 

(Photo: Neil Moralee)

In 2019-20 4.3 million children (defined as people under 16, or aged 16 to 19 and in full-time education) were living in households in poverty. They accounted for 31% of the UK’s 14 million children.

The Labour figures show that, among some ethnic groups, children are just as likely now to be living in poverty as they were a decade ago. In 2010-11, 61% of Bangladeshi children were living in poor households – exactly the same figure as at the end of the decade.

For white children, the figure has risen from 24% to 26%; for Pakistani children, it has gone up from 50% to 55%; and for black children it has increased from 42% to 53%. Overall, 27% of all children were living in poor households in 2010-11; the latest figure is 31%.

Baby at End Child Poverty Campaign in London, 4th October 2008. (Photo: Alamy/ Paul Doyle)

Anneliese Dodds, the shadow secretary of state for women and equalities, whose office produced the figures, said the Conservatives should be ashamed of what they revealed.

“There is little wonder that child poverty has skyrocketed over the last decade when Conservative ministers have done so little to tackle the structural inequalities driving it,” she said.

“Conservative incompetence and denialism about the existence of structural racism are driving black children into poverty. Labour has a plan to lift them out of it, with a new race equality act to tackle structural racial inequality at source.”

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Furthermore, food writer Jack Monroe shone light on how rampant inflation disproportionately affects the poorest people in a terrible way. Monroe is known for writing about feeding herself and her family on a very tight budget.

This week she tweeted and has since gone viral. She went through a list of examples from her local supermarket – which she said was “one of the big four” – pointing out price rises on everyday foodstuffs over the last year. In most cases she was talking about the cheapest, most budget version of the item:

  • Pasta: up from 29p for 500g to 70p.
  • Rice: up from 45p a kilo to £1 for 500g.
  • Apples: a small bag up from 59p to 89p.
  • Curry sauce: up from 30p to 89p.
  • Baked beans: up from 22p a can to 32p.
  • Canned spaghetti: up from 13p to 35p.
  • Peanut butter: up from 62p to £1.50

Example of Sainsbury’s basics range. (Photo: Alamy/ Clynt Garnham)

The list went on, detailing how the price of basic food items – the kind of things most likely bought by people on minimum wage, on zero-hour contracts, on benefits – had doubled, tripled, and quadrupled, skyrocketing by hundreds of per cent.

Monroe said that a year ago her supermarket had more than 400 items in its value range. Now it had 91.

Meanwhile in the high-end section of the supermarket, things were different. On a luxury ready meal lasagne that cost £7.50 there had been no price increase at all. The “dine in meal for two for £10” offer was still £10. £10 is what Monroe used to spend to feed her family for a week. Had the same price increase that applied to basic rice been applied across the luxury food section of the store, the lasagne would now cost £25.80. The dine in for two for ten would now be £34.40

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