A new report by the Social Metrics Commission (SMC) highlights the scale of the challenge facing new Prime Minister Boris Johnson when it comes to tackling poverty across the UK. The report reveals that 4.5 million people are more than 50% below the poverty line, and 7 million people are living in persistent poverty.
It shows that, despite fluctuations, overall rates of poverty have changed relatively little since the millennium.
The key findings from the 2019 report are:
- Overall poverty: There are 14.3 million people in poverty in the UK. This includes 8.3 million working-age adults; 4.6 million children; and 1.3 million pension-age adults.
- Depth of poverty: On average, those in poverty have moved closer to the poverty line now than would have been the case in 2000/01. However, a third (31%) of people in poverty – 4.5 million people – are more than 50% below the poverty line, and this proportion has not changed since the millennium.
- Persistent poverty: Just under half (49%) of those in poverty are in persistent poverty, meaning they are in poverty now and have also been in poverty for at least two of the previous three years. This totals 7 million people, including 2.3 million children, 1.2 million people living in lone-parent families, and 1.8 million of those living in workless households.
- Depth & persistence of poverty: Poverty persistence is particularly high for those in deep levels of poverty. Three fifths (59%) of those living more than 50% below the poverty line are also in persistent poverty, compared to just over a third (36%) of those living within 5% of the poverty line.