Children in Low-Income Families Local Measure
The Children in Low-Income Families Local Measure is the proportion of children living in families either in receipt of out-of-work benefits or in receipt of tax credits with a reported income which is less than 60% of national median income. This measure provides a broad proxy for the relative low-income measure as used in the Child Poverty Act 2010 and enables analysis at a local level.
(Note that without detailed income data, there are no direct measures of child poverty at a local level.)
Nationally, poverty is the strongest predictor of a child’s future life-chances:
- The highest early achievers from poorer backgrounds are overtaken by lower achieving children from advantaged backgrounds by age seven; by the end of Key Stage 1 the odds of a pupil eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) achieving Level 2 in reading, writing and maths are one third those of a non-FSM pupil;
- The gap widens further during secondary education and persists into Higher Education. The odds of a FSM pupil achieving five or more GCSEs at A*-C including English and Maths are less than one third those of a non FSM pupil;
- A pupil from a non-deprived background is more than twice as likely to go on to study at university as their deprived peers;
- Attainment gaps have proved to be persistent and slow at narrowing despite investment.
Source: Somerset Children and Learners Needs Analysis 2013
The latest Children in Low-Income Families Measure statistics were published in February 2018 and represent a snapshot as at 31st August 2015 (the time lag is due to the reconciling of tax credit figures).
Key facts for Somerset:
- In Somerset, 12,150 children (aged under 16) were considered to be living in poverty in 2015, equating to 13.1% of all children.
- This was the lowest proportion experienced in the last decade.
% of children under 16 in poverty, 2006 to 2015
Source: Children in Low-Income Families Local Measure, HMRC
- Levels of child poverty in Somerset are consistently below South West and national averages, but mask significant variations at lower geographical levels.
- At a district level, the highest percentages of children in poverty in 2015 were in Sedgemoor (15.6%) and the lowest in Taunton Deane (11.6%).
- Bridgwater Hamp ward had the highest proportion of children (under 16) living in poverty (28.2%).
- Glastonbury St. Edmund's ward and Chard Combe were the only other Somerset wards where the proportion of children living in poverty was at least one in four.
- There are a total of 14 Somerset wards where the proportion of children in poverty is at least one in five (20%).
It should be noted that the Children in Low-Income Families Local Measure is a relative measure of poverty (so, for example, if the national median income level falls, so does the 'poverty line', and fewer households will fall below this threshold).
Alternative measure: Children in Out-of-Work Benefit Households
In November 2017 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published its latest annual snapshot of numbers of children living in out-of-work benefit claimant households. This represented a snapshot as at 31 May 2016.
- There were 12,450 Somerset children (aged 0-18) living in out-of-work benefit households, a decrease of 90 children on the previous year. There were a total of 6,640 households claiming at least one out-of-work benefit, a decrease of 100 on the previous year. These falls mirrored national downward trends.
Note that this measure does not take account of ‘in-work poverty’, where people are in employment but on a low income.
Household Poverty: Small Area (MSOA) estimates
The proportion of Somerset households living in poverty (after housing costs) ranges from 10.6% in the Comeytrowe/Trull area of Taunton, to 32.8% in the Hamp area of Bridgwater, according to estimates published by the Office for National Statistics in March 2017. Information is available for all Middle-layer Super Output Areas (MSOAs).
A household is deemed to be in poverty if the household’s income lies below 60% of the UK median income (equating to £232 per week after housing costs for the financial year ending 2014).
Each Somerset district has at least one area within Somerset’s ‘top 10’ in terms of highest rates of poverty, all of which are urban areas. These areas cover parts of Bridgwater, Chard, Frome, Highbridge, Minehead, Taunton and Yeovil.
Overall, around three-quarters of small areas (Middle-layer Super Output Areas, MSOAs) in Somerset have fewer than 20% of households in poverty, in line with the national benchmark.
For information on deprivation in Somerset generally, including data on the 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), please see our IMD page.