Bishop of St Albans asks Government about child poverty in Luton

On 10th June the Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, received a written answer to a question from Baroness Stedman-Scott on child poverty in Luton.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL4300 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the rate of child poverty in Luton; and what plans they have to provide additional financial support to the Luton Borough Council to help it address that rate. 

Baroness Stedman-Scott: The national and regional statistics on the number and proportion of people in low income as set out in the annual ‘Households Below Average Income’ publication are not available at local authority level due to limitations around the survey sample.

New experimental data on Children in Low Income families was published on 26 March 2020 and is available at Local Authority level. For the Luton Local Authority area, 23 per cent of children were in families with absolute low income in 2018/19 compared with 25 per cent in 2014/15.

Our current focus is on helping vulnerable families cope with the financial hardships brought about by COVID-19. We have increased Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 from 6 April 2020 for one year, benefiting over four million of the most vulnerable households, and increased Local Housing Allowance rates – putting an average of £600 into people’s pockets.

In addition, Local Authorities in England will now be able to use the £500 million Hardship Fund announced at the Spring Budget to help working people on Local Council Tax Support to provide additional help to vulnerable people locally through arrangements such as Local Welfare Schemes.

This Government’s long-term ambition remains to build an economy that will support work, and ensure that everyone has opportunities to enter work and progress, while being supported by the welfare system in their time of need. This is based on clear evidence of the important role of work in reducing child poverty. In 2018/19, only three per cent of children in households where both parents work full time were in absolute poverty (before housing costs) compared to 47 per cent in households where one or more parent was in part-time work.