Revised estimates by the Institute for Fiscal Studies show that relative child poverty in the UK is set to increase by six percentage points between 2010/11 and 2020/21, from 17.5 per cent to 23.5 per cent.
This will mean that by 2020, around 3.5 million children will be classed as living in poverty, reversing the reductions made in the previous decade.
Under the relative poverty measure, a child is classed as living in poverty if they are in a household with an income of less than 60 per cent of average wages.
The report, which was put together for the Northern Ireland executive, predicts that relative poverty in Northern Ireland will rise at an even faster rate, from 21.4 per cent in 2010/11 to 29.7 per cent in 2020/21.
Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said the projections highlight the need for a different strategy on child poverty.
“The government has child poverty targets and a child poverty strategy because it knows poverty destroys life chances and generates huge costs to our economy,” she said.
“Today’s figures must lead to a rethink of a strategy that not only isn’t working but looks set to turn the child poverty problem into a crisis in the years ahead.
“As a result of the government’s flawed strategy, more than 1.1 million more children will be living in poverty by 2020/21.”
Garnham said an effective child poverty strategy should contain policies that deliver on areas including job security, living wages and affordable housing for low income families.
“When the right policies aren’t in place to help ensure family life is affordable, it’s inevitable that children suffer,” she added.
“The security of our families and the progress of our children need to move to the top of the government’s list of priorities. If children aren’t put first, the threat of a child poverty crisis will become a reality.”