New research provides evidence that living in a poor household is a key risk factor for children being taken into care
The research, undertaken jointly by The Universities of Liverpool and Huddersfield, included data drawn from 147 local authorities between 2015 and 2020 which was linked to information from the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue & Customs and found that a 1% increase in child poverty led to 5 additional children entering care per 100,000.
The study suggests that, over the five year period, this meant more than eight per cent of care entries were linked to rising child poverty, the equivalent of 10,356 more looked after children, at an estimated cost of £1.4bn.
Lead researcher Davara Bennett, from Liverpool University, said: “We know that there is a relationship between poverty and care entry. But the nature of that relationship has remained the subject of some controversy, particularly in the UK. Our study presents evidence that rising child poverty is likely fuelling care entry and other statutory interventions in childhood.
“The message for policy is clear: poverty-alleviation is key to tackling the unsustainable and costly rise in the population of children in care. The good news is that child poverty is highly amenable to policy intervention. Merely restoring and extending the universal credit uplift and reversing cuts to welfare benefits, including the two-child limit and lowered benefit cap, would lift millions of children out of poverty, creating the conditions for better childhoods, and improving health outcomes across the lifecourse.
“The bad news is that, currently, welfare policy is considered outside the scope of the ongoing Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England. Our research suggests that, without the wider scope, this potentially transformative review is unlikely to achieve its ambitious aims.”
Read the full research paper here