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One million Brits just £10 a week away from living in poverty

One million Brits just £10 a week away from living in poverty
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning
Posted:
04/06/2024
Updated:
04/06/2024

Almost one million (900,000) people in the UK are £10 per week away from living in poverty, a charity reveals.

That includes 200,000 children and 300,000 pensioners, according to data from 2022/23 by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The situation for three million people – the population of Wales – is that if you took £40 from them each week, they’d also be in poverty.

Of those, 700,000 are children, one-and-a-half million are adults of working age and the rest are pensioners.

These are the millions of people considered to be “teetering on the edge” of poverty. But there are already 14.2 million in that living situation, of which 4.2 million are under the age of 18.

Living in poverty is when your income is less than 60% of the UK average, once housing costs have been deducted. To be in ‘deep’ or ‘very deep’ poverty, your income is either 50% or 40% of the UK average income, respectively.

There are just over one million people living in poverty who are only £20 per week from falling into very deep poverty, and there are six million in the UK already living in that position.

Meanwhile, in May, seven million households said they had gone without essentials including showers, toiletries, or adequate clothing in the last six months or gone hungry in the last 30 days.

The cost-of-living crisis has been a major cause of this. Indeed, a separate study from Households Below Average Income showed it caused 600,000 people to fall into extreme financial difficulty during 2022/23.

But the number of people in poverty has steadily grown over the last two decades. The last time the levels of poverty in the UK dropped was during 2004/05 – when Labour was last in Government.

‘Stain on the moral conscience’ of UK

Paul Kissack, CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, described the fact there are millions “teetering on the edge” of poverty as “a stain on the moral conscience of our nation”.

Kissack said: “It has been six Prime Ministers since this country last made sustained progress on reducing poverty. During that time, we’ve seen a sustained rise in the number of people in deep poverty, with hardship and destitution growing even faster.”

Ahead of the general election on the 4 July, he said that whoever gets the keys to 10 Downing Street needs to prioritise reversing the trend.

Kissack added: “Our political leaders must be specific and ambitious about how they will tackle poverty. But, so far, there hasn’t been anything like the level of urgency from either Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer that we need to see. Pointing to future growth as a panacea just won’t cut it.

“Tonight’s debate is a chance for both leaders to set out their plans and demonstrate they are serious about addressing hardship. Failure to act is a political and moral choice, and one they should expect to be judged on.”