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 December 2018 and represent a snapshot as at 31st August 2016 (the time lag is due to the reconciling of tax credit figures).
Key facts for Somerset:
- In Somerset, 11,950 children (aged under 16) were considered to be living in poverty in 2016, equating to 12.9% of all children.
- This was the lowest proportion experienced in the last decade.
% of children under 16 in poverty, 2006 to 2016
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 percentage of children in poverty in 2016 was in West Somerset (16.3%) and the lowest percentage in Mendip (11.9%).
- Glastonbury St Benedict's ward had the highest proportion of children (under 16) living in poverty (25.8%).
- Bridgwater Hamp was the only other Somerset ward where the proportion of children living in poverty was at least one in four.
- There are a total of 11 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, if the national median income level falls, so does the 'poverty line', and fewer households will be within the threshold).
Alternative measure: Children in Out-of-Work Benefit Households
In December 2018, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) released its latest annual snapshot of children living in out-of-work benefit households, representing an alternative proxy indicator of child poverty.
As at 31 May 2017 there were 13,300 Somerset children (aged 0-18) living in out-of-work benefit households, an increase of 850 children on the previous year. Nationally, numbers of children in out-of-work households have continued to follow a downward trend.
At a local (ward) level, Highbridge and Burnham Marine had the highest number of children in out-of-work households (525), followed by Bridgwater Fairfax (465) and Bridgwater Hamp (430). Conversely, two wards (Blackdown and West Quantock) recorded fewer than 5 children.
The largest year-on-year increases were seen in Highbridge & Burnham Marine, North Petherton and West Monkton, likely driven by overall population growth in these areas.
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.