Theresa May. You work for us. SORT IT!
14 million people, 4.5 million of them children, are living in poverty.
A study by The Social Metrics Commission has discovered that over 14 million people, 4.5 million of them children, are living in poverty.
The investigation also discovered that 12% of the total UK population is in “persistent” poverty, having spent all or most of the last four years below the breadline.
The statistics, by Social Metrics Commission, have been gathered from a new measure to calculate social disadvantage.
The commission’s chair, Philippa Stroud, said: “We want to put poverty at the heart of government policymaking and ensure that the decisions that are made are genuinely made with the long term interests of those in poverty in mind.”
A government spokesperson said: “Measuring poverty is complex, and this report offers further insight into that complexity and the additional measures that can be taken into consideration.”
Sam Royston, director of policy and research at The Children’s Society, said:
“While we would welcome these changes to how poverty is measured being included in official statistics, concrete action is needed to tackle the shameful scale of poverty among our children, with all the damage it can do to their wellbeing, education and life chances.”
Why is this so different?
This new metric accounts for the negative impact on people’s weekly income of inescapable costs such as childcare and the impact that disability has on people’s needs; and includes the positive impacts of being able to access liquid assets such as savings, to alleviate immediate poverty. The Commission’s metric also takes the first steps to including groups of people previously omitted from poverty statistics, like those living on the streets and those in overcrowded housing.
The metric is also positioned within a wider framework that helps us to see a more detailed picture of exactly who is poor, and the range of factors that can detrimentally impact on their lives, their experience of poverty and their future chances of remaining in, or entering poverty. Many of these sound like simple ideas, and our research with the general public shows strong support of the idea that poverty should take account of each of them. However, this is the first time that all of these ideas have been brought together into a coherent framework for poverty measurement, which can be applied to existing UK data.
What does it mean?
There are some areas of good news; far fewer pensioners are living in poverty than previously thought, with a significant fall in pensioner poverty over the last 15 years. This is a tribute to all the hard work done to improve the lives of pensioners over the last two decades and shows that concerted policy action can really make a difference.
However, there are also many other new findings that challenge us to sharpen our focus.
The report highlights that 7.7 million people are living in persistent poverty. These people have spent all or most of the last four years (and more) in poverty. Persistence rates are particularly high for children and working-age adults who live in workless families and families with a disabled person. Given that we know that long periods in poverty can be particularly damaging to people’s lives and prospects, this is a significant concern.
The report also highlights a range of groups that have previously been under-represented in official measures of poverty. For example, our approach suggests that nearly half of the 14.2 million people in poverty live in families with a disabled person. Compared to previous measures, it also shows that those families struggling to make ends meet because of childcare and housing costs and those who lack a financial buffer to fall back on are much more likely to be in poverty.
A tendency to focus on incomes only has meant that we have previously failed to adequately consider the impact that a lack of financial resilience, and high essential costs have on families lives. The Commission’s metric ends that trend by developing a clear methodology for understanding these issues.
Baroness Philippa Stroud Chair of Social Metrics Commission said :
“Personally, I was struck by the clear link between worklessness and the incidence of poverty and persistent poverty. The results show that close to nine in ten (88%) of those living in workless couple families with children are in poverty. This compares to just three in one-hundred (3.3%) of those in equivalent families where both adults work full time. The situation is echoed in statistics on persistent poverty; while 13.1% of children in working families are in persistent poverty, 48.7% of all children in workless families are in persistent poverty.”