9 facts about poverty in the UK

A record number of working families are living in poverty, with incomes of the poorest workers falling 10% in a decade, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s annual report.

Here are 8 more facts about poverty according to the charity’s report:

1. Half of all people in poverty live in a household where someone is in paid work.

2. One in five adults in poverty is behind with at least one bill, compared with one in 20 adults not in poverty.

3. Around two-thirds of those who found work in the past year took on jobs that paid less than the living wage.

4. There has been a huge rise in under-25s living in poverty reaching a near all-time high, while poverty among those over 75 is at a record low.

5. The poorest households spend more than a quarter of their income on housing, with the poorest private renters spending more than half of their income on housing.

6. Domestic energy bills have more than doubled, while overall prices are 30% higher than a decade ago.

7. Single men and women without children have seen their incomes fall the most in the last decade. Only pensioners and single parents have seen a rise. Richer households have seen a bigger rise than poorer households.

8. There are 13.3 million people in poverty in the UK. However, this year the poverty line is lower than in previous years because incomes have fallen. Using the same poverty line as in 2007/08, there are 16.6 million people living in poverty.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • But, no doubt, you're using the very technical definition of poverty - perhaps you should explain how that is calculated. But then your point about "Using the same poverty line as in 2007/08" sees the number in poverty increases the number in poverty by 3m would destroy your argument, wouldn't it?
    It seems to me that this article is another of the numerous articles using meaningless statistics to mislead and dishonestly influence public opinion.
    The money available on welfare and via tax credits/housing benefits etc. means that NO-ONE need be considered in REAL poverty

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  • Hi Barry, thanks for your comment.

    Firstly, let me explain what a reporter does, since you seem to be having trouble with the concept. We take studies and reports, such as this one from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and pick out the main bits so people don't have to find and then read the 147-page report. This is known as NEWS. So please understand, where I twice mention in the first and second paragraphs the figures have come from a report, this means they are not my figures. I have not calculated them. I am just REPORTING them.

    In addition, you'll see in the headline, I have used the word "facts" and not once mentioned the word "opinion". This may give you a clue that I am not trying to "argue" anything. I am merely condensing a large report from one of the UK's most respected charities.

    Secondly, as you requested, here is the measure of poverty used by the charity and the government.
    "The ‘contemporary’ measure sets the poverty line at 60 per cent of the median household income in 2012/13. The ‘fixed’ measure sets the line at 60 per cent of median household income in 2010/11, uprated for inflation only. Both measures are used in the Child Poverty Act, albeit on a before housing costs (BHC) basis, rather than the after housing costs (AHC) calculation used here.
    "It shows that there were around 13.3 million people in poverty on the contemporary measure in 2012/13. 3.7 million were children, 8.0 million were working-age adults and 1.6 million were pensioners. There were 14.6 million people in poverty using the fixed threshold; 4.1 million children, 8.7 million working-age adults and 1.8 million pensioners, an additional 1.3 million in total.
    "But if we use the 2007/08 threshold, we see a much bigger difference. There are 16.6 million people living in households whose income is below the 2007/08 poverty line (after the line has been uprated for inflation) – an additional 3.3 million, around half of whom are working-age adults."

    Professional statisticians have compiled the data in this report so no doubt they'd be interested to know why you might call the figures "meaningless".

    Finally, as you seem to know so much about poverty, do enlighten us all with your definition of the word. As you say, the government, charities, public bodies and the media all seem to be using the "technical definition", and are generally in agreement that poverty exists in the UK, but perhaps we are all wrong.

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