Poverty cuts across all types of families and households from single mothers or large multi generation households through to elderly people living alone. This section currently focuses on the impact of poverty on families with children.
Definition of Poverty
Child and Family Poverty
Child and Family poverty is defined by lack of income, opportunity, aspiration and stability within and across the family group, particularly where this is an intergenerational feature of family life.
However, Government currently defines Child Poverty as:
Dependent children under 16 living in poverty (NI 116) ‘The number of children who live in households whose equivalised income is below 60% of the contemporary national median’. Local data is available on this indicator.
The national child poverty rate is based on the ‘households below average income’ (HBAI). This information is available at a national and regional level
Is the experience of the child or young person living within the family experiencing poverty.
Households are considered to be in ‘fuel poverty‘ if they would have to spend more than 10% of their household income on fuel to keep their home in a ‘satisfactory’ condition, where, for example, a ‘satisfactory’ heating regime is considered to be one where the main living area is at 21 degrees centigrade with 18 degrees centigrade in the other occupied rooms. It is thus a measure which compares income with what the fuel costs should be rather than what they actually are. Household income is disposable household income before deducting housing costs, with Housing Benefit and Income Support for Mortgage Interest both counted as income. The fuel costs included comprise that used for space heating, water heating, lighting, cooking and household appliances.
The impact of poverty
Poor children’s life chances are dependent upon a complex combination of low household income, a lack of equal opportunities and social exclusion. While some children who grow up in low-income households will go on to achieve their full potential, many others will not. Poverty places strains on family life and excludes children from the everyday activities of their peers. Many children experiencing poverty have limited opportunities to play safely and often live in overcrowded and inadequate housing, eat less nutritious food, suffer more accidents and ill health and have more problems with school work leading to low educational attainment as these children become adults they are more likely to be in poorly paid employment or economically inactive continuing the poverty cycle.
Tackling child poverty will help to improve children’s lives today, and it will also enhance their life chances: enabling them to make the most of their talents, achieve their full potential in life and pass on the benefits to their own children.
What are the needs of the population?
Devon has two other aspects to its demography that impact on poverty in the County. Firstly the rural nature of the County creates an isolation that can magnify the impact of poverty beyond its immediate effect. Secondly, a relative low wage economy exists, and that will mean that even for families that are in work they may remain within the poverty thresholds. The analysis of this situation is yet to be finalised but the national figures show that the same number of children exist in low wage poverty as do in benefit dependent families.
Child Poverty is not necessarily an issue associated with Devon; however, 17,860 children between the ages of 0-15 are currently living in poverty, which is 14.6% of the total population of children of this age (2008). In addition to this, in certain areas of the county the issue is far more severe. This is only highlighted when the situation is analysed at a lower super output area level, showing that in four areas over 40% of children are in poverty situation, when the national average is only 21.6%.
- 16,670 Devon children aged under 16 (13.3%) were living in families in receipt of out of work benefits in 2010 which is a fall from 17,150 (13.7%) in 2009. 
- 18,350 (14.9%) dependent children under 16 in Devon are living in poverty (formerly NI 116) (2009)
- Devon has been successful in reducing child and family poverty. The percentage of children aged under 16 living in poverty has fallen in Devon between 2006 and 2009 (-0.3% in Devon compared a rise of 0.6% Nationally) (based on former NI 116)
- For all dependent children there has been a rise of 255 children living in poverty although in percentage terms this amounts to a reduction in child poverty of at National and Regional level there has been a rise in both percentage and absolute numbers living in poverty (based on former NI 116).
- 22 Devon LSOA’s are in the 20% most deprived areas in England according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation (2010), 1 more than in 2007.
- 18,400 children under 16 in Devon are living in Income Deprivation according to the IDACI Index (2010) compared to 19,891 in 2007.
- Devon has high levels of poor housing, ranking 102 out of 149 authorities under the housing domain of the Child Wellbeing Index (2009)
- Average house prices in Devon(£220,351 Q2 2009) are around 7 times mean average household income (£31,442 in 2009)
- There were 8,741 pupils in Devon LA Maintained Establishments who were eligible for Free School Meals in January 2012. This is an increase of 0.6% from January 2011 (based on retrospective adjustment excluding schools that were LA Maintained in Spring 2011 who have since become Academies). In both 2011 and 2012 the highest eligibility was in Central and Chestnut Learning Community (19.7%), and Ottery St Mary Learning Community the lowest (3.6%).
- An estimated 18,917 (6.33%) Devon households are experiencing fuel poverty.
- There is a large poverty related attainment gap evident within schools in Devon and across England. Children and young people who are eligible for free school meals on average perform substantially worse in both key stage 2 and GCSE assessments. In Devon only 29.3% of those eligible for FSM achieve 5 A*-C including English and Maths in 2011 compared to 61.3% of those not eligible for FSM.
- Young people eligible for free school meals were more likely to be excluded from school and to be persistently absent from school that those not eligible for FSM.
- In Devon it appears that ethnicity is not as strongly related to poverty as it is in the rest of England. Devon has a low proportion of its population from BME groups and proportionately they are more likely to live in a wealthier neighbourhood than a deprived neighbourhood.
- Poverty shortens lives. At ward level there is a difference of approximately 14 years between the lowest life expectancy at birth in the Ilfracombe Central Ward (74.7 years) area and the highest life expectancy in West Devon Chagford Ward (88.4).
- In Devon there around 400 births per annum to mothers aged under 20, with higher levels of births seen in more deprived neighbourhoods.
- There are many negative health links attributed to deprivation. Children in Devon are more likely to be overweight or obese if they lived in the most deprived neighbourhoods.
 Child Poverty Act 2010 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/9/contents
 31/05/2010 DWP Benefits Claimant Count http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/families/childpoverty/b0066347/child-poverty-data
 A household is in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime and cover other normal fuel costs, it would be required to spend more than 10% of its income on all household fuel use. The indicator is based on the 2003 English House Condition Survey (EHCS) and 2001 Census. http://www.fuelpovertyindicator.org.uk/
 DfE – maintained schools and academies http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s001057/index.shtml
To be added
There have been various evidence review, for some examples see below, but strong evidence of effective interventions has been hard to establish.
Bradshaw, J. (2006) A review of the comparative evidence on child poverty, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, York
What is currently being done in Devon?
Reducing child poverty and improving the life chances of children and young people runs through much of the work that we undertake in Devon. Some examples are listed below:
Supporting Families to Achieve Financial Independence
- Financial health checks within CAF
- Quids for Kids
- Communication strategy to raise awareness and de-stigmatise anti-poverty measures (eg Free School Meals)
- Build Job/skills creation into procurement practice through local economic partnership
Supporting Family Life and Children’s Life Chances
- Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) focus
- Literacy/numeracy/basic skills promotion/provision
- Smoking – Smoke Free Homes Agenda, NHS stop smoking service
The Role of Place and Transforming Lives
- Locally pooled budgets to commission specific early intervention activities
Quids for Kids is a specialist benefits advice service for families of children or young people with additional needs. The advice service is coordinated by Devon County Council and Devon Welfare Rights Unit (Citizens Advice) and brings together a range of service providers to help families claim all the benefits to which they are entitled. Over 50% of families who contacted the service were not receiving their full entitlement. Almost £7 million has been raised in increased benefit entitlement since 2005. This averages at over £5,000 per family.
Improving educational outcomes
- Narrowing the Gap
- Aiming High for Disabled Children
- Pupil Premium
Recommendations for commissioning
- Develop and implement a Common Assessment Framework (CAF)-linked Financial Health checklist, to enable individual families’ economic situation to be quickly and effectively assessed for further advice and support through Devon Welfare Rights Unit.
- Undertake detailed case studies with families in order to find out what ‘poverty’ looks and feels like across Devon, to understand more about hidden rural poverty, and to establish what interventions and support make a positive difference.
- Maintain and if possible build on the existing Quids for Kids scheme to provide additional support to families with multiple vulnerabilities – for example, where families have children with special educational needs, or have additional parenting pressures such as substance misuse.
Local documents and resources
National documents and resources
Child Poverty Act 2010 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/9/contents
DWP and DfE National Child Poverty Strategy 2011 - A New Approach to Child Poverty: Tackling the Causes of Disadvantage and Transforming Families’ Lives
Department for Work and Pensions- Child Poverty Information
Department for Education - Child Poverty Information
Created: 28 July 2011
Last Updated: 17 April 2012 (DRAFT)
Review Date: 31 March 2012