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Child poverty levels set to soar

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Thinktank reveals 20 years of progress will be dismantled

Child poverty levels in the UK are set to soar over the next five years with a record 5.2 million classified as living in poverty by 2022, according to a leading thinktank.

Over this period, more than a million more children will be resigned to poverty according to research conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies

Freezing benefits, the introduction of universal credit and less generous tax credits will result in the huge surge in child poverty with deprived areas being most affected.

And it means 20 years of progress tackling poverty will be dismantled, campaigners warn.

“Across all regions, relative child poverty is projected to increase markedly,” the IFS said. “The smallest increases are in the south, but even there relative child poverty is projected to rise by at least four percentage points.

"The northern regions, the Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland are projected to see increases of at least eight percentage points.”

By 2021-22, the IFS expects 37% of children to be living in relative poverty – defined as a household where the income is less than 60% of the UK median – after housing costs have been taken into account.

The thinktank said this was the highest percentage since modern records began in 1961.

Campbell Robb, chief executive at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation who funded the IFS report, said: “These shocking figures show the UK’s proud record of reducing child poverty is at risk of unravelling – it could mean an additional 1.2million children in poverty by the end of the parliament.”

Living standards would continue to be under pressure over the coming years, the thinktank added, noting that the weakness in income growth since the recession had been unprecedented in recent times.

Meanwhile the charity Gingerbread warned that inflexible jobseeking rules in universal credit put single parents with pre-school age children at greater risk of poverty and debt.

A report by the charity warned parents were in an “impossible bind” saying that that around 165,000 single parents could be forced into finding work or risk having their benefits sanctioned.

Gingerbread says these parents "are being asked to achieve the impossible", due to limited availability of flexible part-time opportunities and the rising cost of childcare.

The charity is calling on the UK government to suspend job-seeking requirements placed on single parents "until sufficient childcare and flexible work opportunities are availabl