Joseph Rowntree Foundation report underlines the level of poverty

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published its annual UK Poverty report which outlines a concerning situation of poverty in the UK, emphasizing the challenges faced by various demographic groups and regions. It also suggests a need for comprehensive and compassionate government action to address the root causes of poverty. The key points and recommendations can be summarized as follows:

Key Points:

  1. Current State of Poverty:
    • More than 1 in 5 people in the UK (22%) were in poverty in 2021/22 – 14.4 million people.
    • Poverty rates have returned to around pre-pandemic levels, with 6 million people experiencing ‘very deep’ poverty.
  2. Historical Context:
    • Poverty levels have remained largely unchanged since the Conservative-led Governments took power in 2010.
    • Before 1979, poverty levels were around 14%, and in the 1980s, there was an unprecedented rise in poverty under the Conservative Government of Margaret Thatcher.
  3. Deepening Poverty:
    • Between 2019/20 and 2021/22, the average person in poverty had an income 29% below the poverty line.
    • 4 in 10 people in poverty were in ‘very deep’ poverty, with an income far below the standard poverty line.
  4. Vulnerable Groups:
    • Larger families, families with limited childcare abilities, many minority ethnic groups, disabled people, informal carers, families not in work, part-time workers, the self-employed, and people living in rented accommodation face particularly high levels of poverty.
  5. Regional Disparities:
    • Poverty rates vary significantly between UK nations and regions, driven by differences in labor markets, housing markets, and rates of benefit receipt.
  6. Cost of Living Crisis:
    • In October 2023, a significant portion of households were in arrears with bills, going without essentials, and reported not having enough money for food.
  7. Future Concerns:
    • Inflation, slow benefits adjustment, falling employment, earnings below 2008 levels, and rising housing costs contribute to ongoing economic challenges.

Recommendations:

  • Labor Market Support: Help people find secure jobs, especially for those outside the labor market.
  • Workplace Rights: Raise basic workplace rights and protections, expand flexible working rights, and improve financial protection for those unemployed.
  • Caring Support: Protect time for caring around work and strengthen care services infrastructure.
  • Social Security: Ensure social security provides enough income for essentials and establish a ‘social safety net.’
  • Pension Security: Raise minimum contribution rates and provide options for a secure retirement.
  • Financial Well-being: Help people build savings, access affordable credit, relieve problem debt, and hold assets.
  • Housing Access: Expand access to secure homes by building new homes and redistributing existing ones.

Vision for the Future:

  • Advocate for a coherent and proportionate plan to end poverty in the UK.
  • Emphasize compassion and creative policy innovations based on lived experiences.
  • Encourage government action to enable everyone to live with dignity, seize opportunities, and build hope for a better future.

This summary highlights the severity of the poverty situation in the UK and the urgent need for a holistic approach to address its root causes and provide support to vulnerable populations.

 

For the report, click here.

For a press release announcing publication of the report, click here.

For the Local Government Association response, click here.

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