Seven million Brits living in 'persistent poverty'

30th July 2019

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Julia Davies

There are seven million people that have been living in poverty for at least two of the last three years in Britain, research by the Social Metrics Commission (SMC) has found.

In a report published yesterday, the SMC also revealed how there are 4.5 million people living in “deep poverty“, which means their income is 50% below the official breadline.

As for overall poverty, a total of 14.3 million people are affected, including 8.3 million working-age adults, 4.6 million children and 1.3 million pension-age adults.

The findings show how far the government must go to deliver the UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 for poverty, and come almost a year after the SMC proposed a new measurement that considers income, housing, childcare and disability costs

“For too many years there has been a divisive debate about how to measure poverty, which has distracted focus from the action needed,“ SMC chair, Philippa Stroud, said.

“There are significant differences in the experience of poverty among different groups – these new findings highlight the urgent need for a more united and concerted approach.“

Despite these differences, the researchers found that overall rates of poverty have changed relatively little this millennium. The current rate is 22%, which is only slightly lower than the 24% recorded in 2000/01.

Nearly half of people in poverty – totalling 6.8 million – live in a family where someone is disabled, while the poverty rate for families where all adults work part-time is 58%, compared with 10% for full-time workers.

And 46% of people in families with a black head of household are in poverty, compared with 37% for families with an Asian head of the house, and 19% for a white head of household.

However, 76% of people in poverty live in families with a head of household who is white.

Compared to the UK average of 22%, poverty rates are slightly higher in Wales and London on 24% and 28% respectively. The rate is 18% in the South East and 20% in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“It is concerning that overall poverty has remained at almost the same level since the early 2000s under governments of all colours,“ Stroud continued.

“Decisions made by policymakers can have a significant impact on who is in poverty and how deep and persistent that poverty is.“

Image credit: ©iStock


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