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Children

Key points

  • London's children are much more likely to live in poor households than children in the rest of England - 37% versus 26%.
  • Children in London are much more likely to live in poverty than adult Londoners (including pensioners).
  • Poor children in London are less likely to be able to afford everyday items than those elsewhere in the country.
  • Pupils eligible for free school meals do better at GCSE than the rest of England in all but one London borough.

Children are defined as under 16.

Commentary

Children are more likely to be in poverty than working-age adults or pensioners. While policies designed to increase social mobility by raising educational attainment among children from disadvantaged backgrounds have been fairly successful in London, an attainment gap persists between these children and those whose families are better off.
Meanwhile, the overall benefit cap and the lack of affordable housing adversely affect families with children in particular. Contrary to public perception, the number of children living in poverty in private rented homes in London has doubled in the past decade and is now as high as the number in poverty in social rented homes.

Poverty

Child poverty is the highest of any age group in London, at 37%, compared to 26% for working age adults and 18% for pensioners.

At the sub-regional level 46% of children in Inner London are in poverty, 13 percentage points higher than Outer London and 20 percentage points higher than the rest of England. But these gaps are smaller than they were a decade ago, as the child poverty rate has fallen in Inner London over the last 10 years, while in Outer London it slightly increased and in the rest of England it slightly decreased.

There has been a shift in the composition of children in poverty. Compared to a decade ago, there are many more children in working families (up from 250,000 to 450,000) and fewer in workless families (down from 350,000 to 230,000). Meanwhile, following a decade of increases the number of children in poverty in the private rented sector has more than doubled, reaching a quarter of a million in the three years to 2011/12.

Children in London are also more likely to be materially deprived than children in the rest of England, with 32% compared to 22% lacking some basic essentials. This is not solely due to London's higher poverty rate, because even among those in poverty 55% were materially deprived compared to 44% in the rest of England. 60% of London children in low income families do not have a week's holiday away from home.

Find out more about child poverty and material deprivation in London.

Education

In 2013/14 GCSE attainment was better in Inner and Outer London than the average for England. 41% of pupils in Inner London and 38% in Outer London did not achieve 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths, compared with 47% across England. GCSE attainment has improved across England since the 2000s but, in London it has improved much faster, particularly Inner London, which used to do worse than the rest of England.

GCSE attainment among pupils eligible for free school meals in London is much better than those in the rest of England. In every London borough except Bexley the proportion of free school meal pupils achieving the target standard was better than the English average.

Since 2009/10 the gap in GCSE attainment between pupils eligible for free school meals and other pupils has narrowed in Outer London and the rest of England while it has slightly widened in Inner London. Nonetheless the gap is smallest in Inner London, followed by Outer London then the rest of England.

Find out more about educational attainment in London.

Housing

It is often assumed that most of those in the private rented sector are working-age adult households, living alone or sharing, but this is no longer the case. Following a decade of increases, the number of children in poverty in the private rented sector has more than doubled, reaching a quarter of a million (2009-12).

Despite a slight increase in the last year for which data is available, the number of children living in the social rented sector in poverty is much lower than the early 2000s when it stood at 350,000. So in the last ten years the number of children in poverty in social rented housing and the number in private rented housing has converged at 250,000. The number of children in poverty in owner-occupied housing in London is much lower at 150,000.

Find out more about children's health in London.

Health

Over the last few decades, variations across London in infant mortality have largely closed. In 1970, the infant mortality rate in Inner London was 20 per 1,000 births, compared to 16 per 1,000 in Outer London and 18 per 1,000 in England and Wales on average. It is now around 5 per 1,000 in Inner and Outer London and across England and Wales on average. There is some variation by borough, with the highest rates at around 6 per 1,000 births about twice the lowest at 3 per 1,000.

Obesity among 11 year olds is higher in most London boroughs than it is in England on average. Moreover, it is rising almost everywhere.

Underage pregnancies were much more common in Inner London than Outer London or the rest of England in the early 2000s, but by 2010 they had fallen to the national average.

Find out about children's health in London.