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Millions of Britain’s poorest people need to double their incomes to lift themselves out of poverty

Millions of Britain's poorest people need to double their incomes to lift themselves out of poverty
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Six million people in the UK live in extreme poverty and would have to almost double their income to escape hardship, a damning study revealed today.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the number of Britons in distress remains high, with poverty rates failing to fall sustainably in two decades and six prime ministers.

Poverty rates soared under Margaret Thatcher but only began to fall under Tony Blair. However, overall deprivation rates began to rise again in 2005 and have remained largely unchanged since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.

Some six million people were stuck in very deep poverty in 2021/22, which means their household earn below 40% of the median income after housing costs. The number has risen by 1.5 million over the past 20 years.

In a report today, the charity lifts the lid on the impossible battle millions face to escape poverty. Poor parents with two kids who have an average income of £21,900 after housing costs would need an extra £6,200 per year just to lift themselves above the poverty line. In the mid 1990s, the gap was £3,300 after adjusting for inflation.

An equivalent family living in very deep poverty, with an average income of £14,600, would need to earn an additional £12,800 more to close that gap. Overall, more than one in five people in the UK (22%) were living in poverty in 2021/22, which amounts to more than 14.4 million people. Of these 8.1 million were adults, 4.2 million were children and 2.1 million were pensioners.

Consumer champion Martin Lewis warned that the “problem is getting worse” and said the Government must act urgently. The MoneySavingExpert.com founder said: “Once people are in the deepest mire, it’s not a Money Saving Expert you need, its policy makers and regulators to sit up take note and address these deep rooted problems – which is exactly what I hope they do with this Joseph Rowntree Foundation report highlighting the situation and calling for change.”

Paul Kissack, JRF group chief executive, said: “It has been almost twenty years and six Prime Ministers since the last prolonged period of falling poverty in the UK. Instead, over the last two decades, we have seen poverty deepen, with more and more families falling further and further below the poverty line.

“Little wonder that the visceral signs of hardship and destitution are all around us – from rocketing use of foodbanks to growing numbers of homeless families. This is social failure at scale. It is a story of both moral and fiscal irresponsibility – an affront to the dignity of those living in hardship, while driving up pressures on public services like the NHS.”

The charity urged politicians to commit to an “essentials guarantee” to be built into Universal Credit to ensure people can afford their basic bills like food and energy.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liz Kendall said: “One in five people trapped in poverty is the devastating consequence of 14 years of Tory failure. Families across the country are being pushed into poverty by a Government that has crashed the economy and unleashed a cost of living crisis. It’s time for change.”

Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham said: “Four million kids in the UK are being crushed by the weight of poverty – their health, wellbeing and futures jeopardised. The public wants politicians to show that they have a plan to end this suffering. The first priority for the next Government must be abolishing the two-child limit and benefit cap which are pulling more and more children into poverty.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We are continuing to support families with the cost of living backed by £104 billion – and there are 1.7 million fewer people living in absolute poverty, including 400,000 children, compared to 2010.

“Children are five times less likely to experience poverty living in a household where all adults work, compared to those in workless households. That’s why we are investing billions breaking down barriers to work and supporting over one million low-income earners through our In Work Progression offer – all while cutting taxes and curbing inflation so hard-working people have more money in their pocket.”

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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