Monday, April 19News For London

1 in 5 UK citizens living in poverty

One in five people in the UK, approximately 14 million people, are living in poverty, a study has revealed. Over 8 million working-age adults, 4 million children, and 1.9 million pensioners in the UK do not have the means to survive day-to-day life.

The report, published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, examined poverty trends in the UK over the last two decades, including state support for families and people living on the brink. Working class adults make up the largest section inflicted by poverty. 47 per cent of UK workers spend more than a third of their income, including housing benefits, on rent and maintenance. More than a third of these have to supplement their income outside of immediate work in order to meet housing costs.

Conditions are not better off for family units: poverty is highest in families with single parents or those with three or more children. While it had been declining significantly for these units over the last two decades, the progress was set back in 2016 when 46 per cent  of families with single parents and 39% of families with three or more children were revealed to be living in poverty.

Reduction in benefits and tax cuts is the major reason that pushes families over the edge. For working class adults already on income support and state allowances, rising costs of essential goods and services was the primary cause of poverty.

The report also called out UK’s pension support services for failing to support retired adults. Ashwin Kumar, a representative of the JRF, said in an interview with the BBC: “The Pension Credit Guarantee hasn’t been going up with prices in the recent years.” Housing costs have also risen significantly for pensioners in the UK.

The report also highlights the close link between poverty, the UK’s housing crisis, and declining quality of mental and physical health in citizens. Living in poverty limited housing options for people, making it more likely for poor people to be living in places that do not meet minimum housing standards. Of the poorest fifth of the population, one in five people were living in ‘non-decent’ homes.

Figures also showed a direct correlation between poverty and poor physical and mental health. Not only were the poorest fifth of the population worse off physically, but a quarter of them also experienced acute depression and anxiety. 30 per cent  of poor families also have a disabled member, and one in 10 working-class adults going through financial troubles were socially isolated.

The findings of the report have drawn criticism of the government in the public sphere. Kumar blamed the government’s stagnant policies in his interview. 

Others blamed poor governance and austerity policies. 





(Subbed by: Jane Bracher)