Tackling child poverty delivery plan: fourth year progress report 2021-2022 - focus report on households with babies under one

Evidence about child poverty in households with a baby under one. The report presents the latest data on the child poverty targets and includes further evidence on the drivers of child poverty among this priority group.


Households with a baby under the age of one are at higher risk of being in poverty. A third, 34% of children in households with a child under one were in relative poverty in 2017-20. This compares to 24% of children overall.

Indeed, having a baby can be a trigger point for some households to fall into poverty or deeper into poverty. This is the case for both the first baby and any subsequent children.

When developing policies that support families with babies at risk of poverty, it is necessary to also consider the wellbeing of the child. That is, the context in which a child is raised, the importance of the home environment, relationships and attachment, alongside factors including education and income. This is of highlighted importance during the first year of the child's life.

There are some specific challenges for households with a baby.

  • In most households, income from employment reduces during the first year of having a baby, mainly due to adjusted working patterns and current levels of parental pay.
  • This is accompanied by general increases to the cost of living when welcoming a new baby into the household.
  • Many families find themselves accessing social security payments for the first time once they have a baby and have to learn how to navigate the complex benefits system.
  • Current parental leave policies still assume that mothers will take a lead role in the home, which then translates into unequal separation of paid and unpaid work.

The literature and secondary data presented mixes UK and Scottish evidence, depending on what level of detail was available. Some evidence is up to date and considers the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic but mostly the evidence base is pre-pandemic. The qualitative interviews undertaken provided some reflections on the negative impact of COVID-19 on the range of support that families received. This includes reduced formal support, such as limited face to face interaction from health visitors and nurses, but also from social networks such as mum and baby groups or face to face antenatal classes.

While there is no single policy or action that ensure households with a child under one are out of poverty, evidence does suggest that gender equality in the early stages of parenthood can help to improve long term prospects for the family. It is also necessary to acknowledge the impact of poverty on the child by supporting families through the drivers of poverty, but also through focusing on inequalities for children.



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