UK Poverty Report 2024 Issues Urgent Warning on Government’s Management of Poverty Crisis

The annual report on poverty in Britain by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) paints a disturbing picture of the nation’s socioeconomic landscape. It issues a stark warning about the government’s inadequate handling of a deepening poverty crisis gripping the country.


According to the recent JRF report, extreme poverty has surged from approximately 4.5 million in the mid-1990s to a staggering 6 million in the fiscal year 2021-2022. The report advocates for doubling the incomes of millions to uplift these individuals, utilizing a comprehensive range of data sources and insights to construct a vivid picture of the current state of poverty in the UK.


The report sheds light on the present situation and delves into the historical trajectory of poverty levels. It reveals that poverty rates have returned to nearly pre-pandemic levels, affecting 14.4 million people, including 8.1 million working-age adults, 4.2 million children, and 2.1 million pensioners. The report emphasizes the stagnation in reducing poverty levels, highlighting that it has been almost two decades and six prime ministers since the last prolonged period of falling poverty.

Moreover, the report discloses the disturbing fact that poverty is deepening, with 6 million people, or 4 in 10 individuals in poverty, experiencing ‘very deep’ poverty in 2021/22. The average income for those in poverty is now 29% below the poverty line, a significant increase from 23% between 1994/95 and 1996/97. Families in ‘very deep’ poverty face an average income that is 59% below the poverty line, representing a two-thirds increase over the past 25 years.


Regional disparities in poverty rates are also evident, emphasizing the cost-of-living crisis. Statistics reveal that in October 2023, around 2.8 million of the poorest fifth of households (47%) were in arrears, 4.2 million households (72%) were going without essentials, and 3.4 million households (58%) reported not having enough money for food.


The report foresees a challenging future with inflation twice its target level, benefits struggling to keep up with rising prices, falling employment, earnings still below 2008 levels, and rapidly increasing housing costs. The JRF urges the government to act compassionately and implement creative policy innovations to address the deepening poverty crisis.


Released at a crucial time, as the UK enters an election year, the report serves as a clarion call for political parties to prioritize tackling poverty. It presents a comprehensive plan to reset social and economic fundamentals, emphasizing secure employment, enhanced workplace rights, improved social security, and affordable housing as essential components of a strategy to combat poverty in the UK.


As the nation grapples with the profound impact of nearly three tough years of accelerating inflation and four desperate years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report underscores the urgency of addressing headline poverty, increasing levels of deep poverty, and deprivation. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation calls for compassionate and creative policy innovations that enable everyone to live with dignity, seize opportunities, and build hope for a better future.

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