RESPONDING to the latest figures which showed no change in the number of children living in poverty, the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, said yesterday: "It is surely wrong, in a just and compassionate society, that so many children are growing up in poverty.

"It is particularly worrying that the numbers of children in severe and absolute poverty are both rising."

The figures are so serious they bear repetition – more than four million children are living in poverty.

The Government maintains that tackling poverty is a priority, but its own data tells a different story.

As Campbell Robb, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: "Today’s figures support what we are hearing from communities across the UK, which is that more working families are struggling to make ends meet."

Separate figures released yesterday demonstrated that the affordability gap between the most and least expensive places to live in England and Wales is at the widest point since records started more than 20 years ago.

In general, newly built homes remain significantly less affordable than existing properties.

The two stories are clearly linked. Unaffordable properties drive many working families into the private rented sector. Rent rises outstrip wage growth, and the poverty trap begins.

House building programmes are not enough – more must be done to increase the social housing supply and break this cycle.