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Children and pensioner poverty levels rise

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The UK has seen a significant rise in the number of children and pensioners living in poverty over the past five years, the first sustained rises for two decades.

The report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that 14 million people in the UK currently live in poverty – more than one in five of the population. This is 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners than five years ago.

The Foundation blamed changes in welfare payments for the decline. It comes after Alan Milburn, head of the government’s Social Mobility Commission, announced his resignation saying that months of “indecision, dysfunctionality and lack of leadership” had thwarted progress to a fairer society.

The problems for pensioners were highlighted by Prudential’s Class of 2017 research earlier this year, which showed one in seven people (14%) planned to retire this year with no private or company pension, relying entirely on the state pension for their retirement income.

The group said this was equivalent to £1,400 a year less than the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s (JRF) annual minimum income standard for a single pensioner of £186.77 a week. This is a benchmark for the income required to support an acceptable standard of living in retirement. A pensioner retiring after 6 April 2017 and relying solely on the new flat-rate state pension, would have a weekly income of £159.55.

Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement income expert at Prudential, said: “We’re now in a period where responsibility for the provision of retirement income is shifting away from the government and employers and on to the individual, and as our research has shown, the state pension alone is not enough to provide for a comfortable life in retirement.”

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