One and a half million more children in poverty by 2022

Published: 14 Mar 2018

Four months after releasing our interim report, we have today released our final cumulative impact assessment, exposing how much individuals and households are expected to gain or lose, and how many adults and children will fall below an adequate standard of living, as a result of recent changes to taxes and social security.

The report, which looks at the impact reforms from 2010 to 2018 will have on various groups across society in 2021 to 2022, suggests children will be hit the hardest as:

  • an extra 1.5 million will be in poverty
  • the child poverty rate for those in lone parent households will increase from 37% to over 62%
  • households with three or more children will see particularly large losses of around £5,600

The report also finds:

  • households with at least one disabled adult and a disabled child will lose over £6,500 a year, over 13% of their annual income
  • Bangladeshi households will lose around £4,400 a year, in comparison to ‘White’ households, or households with adults of differing ethnicity, which will only lose between £500 and £600 on average
  • lone parents will lose an average of £5,250 a year, almost one-fifth of their annual income
  • women will lose about £400 per year on average, while men will only lose £30

The negative impacts are largely driven by changes to the benefit system, in particular the freeze in working-age benefit rates, changes to disability benefits, and reductions in Universal Credit rates.

David Isaac, the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is responsible for making recommendations to Government on the compatibility of policy and legislation with equality and human rights standards, said:

"It’s disappointing to discover that the reforms we have examined negatively affect the most disadvantaged in our society. It’s even more shocking that children – the future generation – will be the hardest hit and that so many will be condemned to start life in poverty. We cannot let this continue if we want a fairer Britain.

"We are keen to work together with government to achieve its vision of a Britain that works for everyone. To achieve this outcome it is essential that a full cumulative impact analysis is undertaken of all current and future tax and social security policies. We have proved it’s possible and urge the Government to follow our lead and work with us to deliver it.”

As well as calling on the Government to commit to undertaking cumulative impact assessments of all tax and social security policies, particularly in order to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty, the Commission is also reiterating its call for government to:

  • reconsider existing policies that are contributing to negative financial impacts for those who are most disadvantaged
  • review the level of welfare benefits to ensure that they provide an adequate standard of living

The announcement comes one week after the Commission submitted a report to the UN’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) highlighting that the UK’s social security system does not provide sufficient assistance to tackle inadequate living standards.

Notes to editors


The assessment by Jonathan Portes of Aubergine Analysis and King’s College London and Howard Reed, Landman Economics undertaken for the Commission considered changes to:

  • income tax
  • national insurance contributions
  • indirect taxes (VAT and excise duties)
  • means-tested and non-means-tested social security benefits
  • tax credits
  • universal credit
  • national minimal wage and national living wage

Between May 2010 and January 2018.

The research uses the tax-transfer model (TTM), a microsimulation model developed by the Institute for Public Policy Research, Landman Economics and the Resolution Foundation.

The TTM uses data from two UK datasets, the Family Resources Survey (FRS) and the Living Costs and Food Survey (LCF).

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

Blog: Progress on socio-economic rights: why are we waiting

Report: Progress on socio-economic rights in Great Britain

Equalities impact assessment

The House of Commons Treasury Committee Inquiry report on the Government’s Autumn Budget 2017 called for HM Treasury to produce and publish robust equalities impact assessments of future budgets, including the individual tax and welfare measure contained within them.

Literature review

The Commission is also publishing a literature review to accompany the Cumulative Impact Assessment Report.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) was commissioned to carry out a literature review of the impact of welfare reform and welfare-to-work programmes and in particular, to examine the evidence about the ways in which protected groups have been affected by these reforms.

Press contact details

For more press information contact the Commission's media office on:

0161 829 8102