Child poverty on the rise in Aylesbury Vale
The End Child Poverty coalition, which commissioned the report showing almost a third of children across the UK live below the breadline, said families were already on a "cliff edge" before the coronavirus pandemic.
The research combined recent figures from the Department for Work and Pensions with local housing costs to produce new estimates for low-income families – those earning less than 60% of the median income.
The analysis shows 23.4% of children aged 16 and under in Buckinghamshire were living in families with low-incomes in 2018-19 – compared to 23.3% in 2014-15.
The report is based on DWP data from March, and estimates of the effect of housing costs on poverty rates by Loughborough University's Centre for Research in Social Policy.
The figures show no improvement in child poverty rates across the South East since 2014-15, with last year's highest rate in Hastings (37.8%).
Across the whole of the region, the average rate was 25%.
In Buckinghamshire, the number of children in low-income families fell from 8,325 in 2014-15, to 4,638 last year.
The coalition is calling on the Government to recognise the scale of the problem and its impact on children’s lives.
Buttle UK – which provides financial support direct to families and young people in crisis – has increased its spending by 145% across the South of England since lockdown started compared with the same period the previous year.
Joseph Howes, CEO of Buttle UK, said: “These new figures allow us to understand the true picture and unacceptably high levels of child poverty at the start of lockdown in the South.
"With the Government putting in new measures to control Covid-19, we need to brace ourselves for further bad news and what could be a massive increase in child poverty and ultimately a lost generation.
“Not all families were the same going into this crisis and they will certainly not be the same coming out. As we attempt a recovery from the crisis, there are going to be some very big challenges facing the most vulnerable sectors in society."
Across the UK, the proportion of children in low-income families rose from 28% to 30% between 2014-15 and 2018-19.
Anna Feuchtwang, chair of ECP, said: "The children affected are on a cliff edge, and the pandemic will only sweep them further into danger.
"An ambitious plan to put this shameful situation right would be transformational for millions of children."
ECP are calling on the UK Government to uprate housing assistance in line with inflation, abandon the "unconscionable" planned cuts to Universal Credit, end the benefit cap and the two-child limit on benefits, and increase child benefit.
A DWP spokesman said there are 100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty than in 2009-10, which is a measure against median income in 2011 rather than the current level.
He added: "Making sure every child gets the best start in life is central to our efforts to level up opportunity across the country.
“We have already taken significant steps to do this by raising the living wage, ending the benefit freeze and injecting more than £9.3 billion into the welfare system to help those in most need.”