Living circumstances

The UK’s young people between the ages of 10 and 25 experience a range of different living circumstances and economic challenges, which are important for their health.

One in five secondary school aged children are eligible for free school meals


The root causes of health inequality are bound up with economic factors such as low income. According to the Department for Work and pension’s measure of income inequality, 3.2 million children were in relative low income before housing costs (23% of children), an increase from the year before, and 4.3 million were in relative low income after housing costs (31%), about the same as the year before (House of Commons Library, 2021). “Relative low income” is living in households with an income below 60% of the median for the population in that year. Poverty statistics are not available specifically for the 10-24 age group excluding younger children.

Another measure of income inequality is provided by receipt of free school meals. Overall, 20.8% of state secondary school children age 11-16 are eligible for free school meals (Department for Education, 2018g). Chart 9.8 compares the rates for different kinds of state funded educational provision and tracks a rise over recent years.

The percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals has been slowly rising

All data correct as of 1st November 2021