This page includes summaries of children in low income families, households on Universal Credit with children, and Free School Meal eligibility in Surrey, alongside the associated data to download for Surrey and Surrey LAs.
Areas included: Surrey, Surrey LAs.
Latest data included:
Children in low-income families - 2020/21 (next data update Spring 2023),
Universal Credit - February 2022 (next data update August 2022),
Free School Meals 2021/22 (next data update June 2023).
A summary of low income and unemployment in Surrey which is not focused on children can be found on Surrey-i here.
A summary of pensioners in poverty in Surrey can be found on Surrey-i here.
A summary on fuel poverty in Surrey can be found on Surrey-i here.
The latest estimate for the number of Surrey children in absolute low-income families is 22,377 for 2020/21. Absolute low-income is defined as families with equivalised income which is less than 60 per cent of the median income adjusted for inflation; it considers income from earnings, state support and pensions before housing costs. The number of children in low-income households rose by 11 per cent between 2019/20 and 2020/21 (representing 2,224 children). Of the local authorities in Surrey, Elmbridge (17%), Tandridge (16%), and Epsom and Ewell (15%) had the highest percentage growth in the number of children in low-income households between 2019/20 and 2020/21.
Most of the Surrey children in low-income families, three in four, are from families with at least one working adult (17,319).
The number of Surrey children in absolute low-income families in 2020/21
The latest household Universal Credit data is from February 2022 which shows 46,290 households in Surrey claimed Universal Credit. Just under half (48%) of Surrey households who were on Universal Credit in February 2022 had children in their households - representing 22,268 households. More than half, around 68 per cent, of households on Universal Credit with children were ‘single’ and so only had one adult in the household.
The number of households on Universal Credit with children rose from 10,413 in February 2020 to 17,619 in April 2020, amounting to an increase of around 70 per cent in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although growth has slowed since the start of the pandemic, the number of households with children on Universal Credit have continued to increase throughout 2020, 2021, and 2022.
The number of households on Universal Credit which include couples with children has declined in the last year by 11 per cent (from 8,027 in February 2021 to 7,170 in February 2022). However, this is not the case for all households with children. The number of those on Universal Credit with only one adult in the household, i.e. ‘single’ households, has risen by 15 per cent in the last year (from 13,171 in February 2021 to 15,098 in February 2022).
The number of Surrey households on Universal Credit with children, by family type
In every Surrey local authority, the numbers of households with children on Universal Credit with only one adult grew between February 2021 and February 2022. Spelthorne and Runnymede had the largest increases in these households with only one adult by 22 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. Tandridge had the smallest growth in these households with only one adult at 8 per cent. Every local authority in Surrey also experienced a decline in the numbers of households with children on Universal Credit which included a couple between February 2021 and February 2022. Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, and Surrey Heath all experienced a 15 per cent decline in these households which include a couple.
Between the two latest months of data, January 2022 and February 2022, the number of Surrey single households on Universal Credit with children rose by 0.9 per cent compared to the 0.1 per cent rise of couple households on Universal Credit with children.
The percentage change in the number of Surrey households on Universal Credit with children between Feb-2021 and Feb-2022, by family type
Free School Meals statistics are collected annually for state-funded schools (including academies) but do not represent every pupil in Surrey as around 20 per cent are in independent schools.
Nonetheless, 13 per cent of pupils in state-funded schools were eligible for Free School Meals in 2021/22. Of the 20,711 state-funded school pupils eligible for Free School Meals in 2021/22, 41 per cent (8,484 pupils) had become eligible since the 23rd March 2020.
There was an increase in the numbers of pupils eligible for Free School Meals by 11 per cent between 2021/22 and 2020/21. The graph below plots the number of pupils in Surrey eligible for Free School Meals by school type over time. The graph shows how the numbers of children eligible for Free School Meals had started to increase year-on-year even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. The growth in the numbers of children eligible for Free School Meals is larger for primary rather than secondary school pupils in state-funded schools (as shown by the steeper line for state-funded primary schools).
The number of pupils eligible for Free School Meals in Surrey by school type between 2016-17 and 2021-22
The percentage of state-funded primary and secondary school pupils in Surrey has been increasing since 2017/18. In 2021/20, 13.5 per cent of children in state-funded primary schools were eligible for Free School Meals compared to 7.6 per cent just five years earlier in 2016/17. The percentage of children eligible for Free School Meals in Surrey state-funded secondary schools rose from 6.3 per cent in 2016/17 to 10.7 per cent in 2021/22.
The rates of pupils eligible for Free School Meals in Surrey by school type