Page last updated at 13:04 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 14:04 UK

Urban poverty and jobless link

Poverty is a defining factor in children's lives

Almost a quarter of children in London live in families where nobody has a job, far above the UK-wide figure of 15%, new figures show.

North east England has the highest rate of child poverty, but London has many of the most deprived areas, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Nearly a third of children in London live in lone-parent families (31%) compared with the UK-average of 25%.

An ONS report examines many aspects of the lives of people under 20 in the UK.

It highlights lower instances of child poverty in the south east of England compared with London.

And it highlights the divide between prosperous parts of south west London and clusters north of the river, stretching from West Ham and Hackney to Paddington, where the largest proportions of London's poor children tend to live.

Many of these areas also have high child obesity rates - running at 16% in Hackney, for example - and poor educational attainment.

High obesity rates were also found in other major cities, but were low in places such as Windsor, Stockport and Kingston upon Thames.

In north east England, by contrast, children living in poverty are more evenly spread around urban and more rural areas.

London's high proportion of jobless families is followed by Wales and the north east, north west and West Midlands in England, where 18% of children live in unemployed families.

Scotland is below average at 15%.

In cities, the contrast between extreme poverty and extreme wealth is most evident, the report says.

Six in 10 children in the UK live with married parents, the report finds, and 14% live with co-habiting parents.

Birth rate

Last month figures showed child poverty in the UK had not diminished, and the government admitted it would find its pledge to halve child poverty by 2010 "very difficult".

The government has also said it wants child poverty - defined as children living in households with below 60% of the average - to be at a minimum by 2020.

The proportion of children living in poverty is highest in north east England, at 28%.

But London has the highest proportion of children living in low income families which are materially deprived - this is measured by giving families a score calculated according to what they can afford to buy.

In most areas, the proportion of children is smaller than the over 65s - though London is again an exception.

It has experienced relatively high numbers of births in recent years, the report says. But as children get older their parents tend to move away, meaning the proportion of children under five is relatively high.

'Significant influence'

The UK population rose to 61 million by 2007 - up from 59 million in 2002, but numbers of under 20s remained at around 15 million.

Regional variations in achievement at school are also examined - children did best at GCSE level in Northern Ireland and in south east England, where 64% and 62% gained five good GCSEs respectively, above the average of 61%.

Attainment tended to be worst in urban areas - with significant variations between more affluent and more deprived regions in London and other cities.

An ONS spokesman said poverty was the most important factor in a child's life: "Although there are differences between regions, the data suggest that the most significant influence on children's experiences growing up is likely to be income deprivation.

"Growing up in a low income family in one region will probably be more like growing up in one in similar circumstances in another region than in a more affluent family living in the same region."

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