Actually what is poverty …. Poverty is the lack of basic necessities that all human beings must have: food and water, shelter, education, medical care, security, etc. A multi-dimensional issue, poverty exceeds all social, economic, and political boundaries. As such, efforts to alleviate poverty must be informed of a variety of different factors.
Just under 1 in 4 people in the UK – or nearly 13 million people – live in poverty, in the UK according to the latest figures. This includes nearly 1 in 3 children (almost 4 million).
Over 10.5 million people live in financial insecurity: they can’t afford to save, insure their house contents, or spend even small amounts on themselves. About 9.5 million can’t afford adequate housing – heated, free from damp, and in a decent state of decoration. The crucial factor about these findings is that they are based on a survey of what the general population sees as necessities.
We also know what a dark shadow poverty casts, particularly over children’s lives and their futures. Eighteen per cent of children go without two or more items that the majority of the population says are necessities, such as adequate clothing, toys, or three meals a day.
Children from poor homes are more likely to die as a baby or a child, and have lower life expectancy overall. They also have a greater likelihood of bad health, a greater risk of unemployment, and a lower chance of high educational achievement.
One in five non-working families on low or moderate incomes reported being unable to afford some basic food items on most days in 2000.
Poverty is likely to last longer for young children in particular.Overall, a recent survey found that about half of all individuals in the bottom fifth of income spent 6 or more years there out of ten.
Long-term poverty can eat away at people’s savings and assets, leaving them more vulnerable: between 1979 and 1996, the number of households without any assets doubled to 1 in 10.It costs more to borrow money if you don’t have much to begin with.
Groups in the UK at greater risk of poverty include women, as well as children: nearly 1 in 4 women lived in poverty in 1999/2000, compared with 1 in 5 men – even before taking account of the ‘hidden poverty’ that may exist in households where income and other resources are not shared fairly.
Minority ethnic groups in the UK are often more vulnerable to poverty, in particular Pakistanis/ Bangladeshis, more than two-thirds of whom were living in poverty in 2000/01. Some groups, such as asylum-seekers, also have to live on lower benefit levels.
Just under two-thirds of individuals in households containing adults of working age who had no paid work were living in poverty in 2000/01. And those in some regions were much more likely to be poor than those in other areas
“Bigger percentages have been poor, and poverty has been more severe, in the past; but because of the larger population, more people live in poverty today measured by the standards of today.”
‘Poverty strips you of your dignity.’ ‘Poverty affects your self-esteem, your confidence … You feel totally powerless.”
People living in poverty the world over often feel their voice is not heard and their dignity is not respected. The public in the UK has tended to be more judgmental about those living in poverty than people in many other countries – being more likely to say, for example, that poverty is due to ‘laziness and lack of will-power’, rather than to ‘injustice in our society’
They also often think that many people on benefit have enough money to live on; but when they are told the actual amounts (£53.95 per week for everything except housing costs and council tax for a single unemployed person, for example), they are more likely to acknowledge the existence of real poverty amongst this group.
Also, the experience of unemployment and poverty amongst friends and family tends to make people more likely to see poverty as primarily due to structural reasons, rather than the fault of individuals themselves.
What is the government doing about it?
The prime minister has set out his commitment to ending child poverty in a generation.The numbers of those living in poverty have started to decline over recent years. But there is still some way to go to make a significant impact on the dramatic increase in poverty and inequality in the UK since the late 1970s.
As the Labour government has started to recognise, one of the crucial ingredients in tackling poverty is public support. Recognition and understanding amongst the general public of the seriousness of the problem, and a determination to do something about it, will be essential to a sustainable long-term strategy to eradicate poverty in the UK.
The most commonly used threshold of low income is 60% of median income. In 2002/03, before deducting housing costs, this equated to £194 per week for a couple with no children, £118 for a single person, £283 for a couple with two children and £207 for a lone parent with two children.
In 2002/03, 12.4 million people were living on incomes below this income threshold. This represents a drop of 1½ million since 1996/97.
The numbers of people on relative low incomes remained broadly unchanged during the 1990s after having doubled in the 1980s.
In 2002/03, there were 8 million people on incomes below the fixed threshold of 60% of 1996/97 median income. This represents a drop of 6 million since 1996/97.
Half of all people in social housing are on low incomes compared to one in six of those in other housing tenures.
Work In 2004, there were 2.3 million people who wanted to be in paid work but were not, compared to 3.5 million a decade previously. This rate of reduction is much less than the rate of reduction in ILO unemployment because the numbers who are 'economically inactive but would like work' have remained unchanged. Two-fifths of all lone parents do not have paid work. Around ½ million young adults aged 16 to 24 were unemployed in 2004 (around 10%). Numbers have reduced by two-fifths since a decade ago but young adult unemployment rates two-and-a-half times higher than those for older workers. Two-fifths of those getting work are out-of-work again within six months. A third of temporary employees would like a permanent job. People without qualifications are three times less likely to receive job related training compared with those with some qualifications.
5½ million adults aged 22 to retirement were paid less than £6.50 per hour in 2004.
1.2 million 18- to 21-year-olds were paid less than £6.50 per hour in 2004. 300,000 were paid less that the full adult minimum wage.
Around 14% of working age households are now in receipt of tax credits. In total, more than three times as many people are now in receipt of tax credits as were in receipt of Family Credit a decade ago.
11-year-olds: The proportions failing to achieve level 4 or above at key stage 2 in English and Maths have fallen substantially in recent years but children in schools with relatively high numbers on free school meals continue to do much worse than other schools.
16-year olds: In 2003/04, around 25% of pupils (170,000 pupils) got no grades above a D at GCSE. This compares with around 30% (190,000) a decade previously. 12% obtained less than 5 GCSEs and 6% got no grades at all.
19-year-olds: 200,000 had no basic qualifications (without an NVQ2 or equivalent) in 2004. This compares to 230,000 a decade previously.
10,000 pupils were permanently excluded from school in 2002/03. This represents a fall of a quarter since the peak in 1996/97.
Child poverty there are 3.6 million children living in poverty in the UK, that is one in four children the UK has the worst rate of child poverty in the European Union – a third of Europe’s poorest children live in the UK child poverty is three times higher than it was 20 years ago. one in five children lives in a family where no one works at all. children born into poor families are more at risk of being poor themselves. one in eleven 16 to 18 year olds are not in education, training or employment. children from poor backgrounds lag 14 per cent behind better off children in educational development at 22 months. diminished expectations of what their parents can afford lead children in poor families to reduce their own hopes and aspirations for the future in the school holidays the complex webs of involvement and support that is provided by schools and related agencies falls away from children’s lives
Scotland has by far the highest proportion of premature deaths for both men and women.
Adults in the poorest fifth of the income distribution are twice as likely to be at risk of developing a mental illness as those on average incomes.
Almost half of adults aged 45-64 in the poorest fifth of the population have a limiting longstanding illness or disability, twice the rate for those on average incomes.
Children from manual social backgrounds are 1½ times more likely to die as infants than children from non-manual social backgrounds.
Babies from manual social backgrounds are 1 1/3 times more likely to be of low birthweight than those from non-manual social backgrounds.
Teenage motherhood is six times as common amongst those from manual social backgrounds as for those from professional backgrounds.
A quarter of women aged 25-64 are now obese compared to a sixth a decade ago.
5-year-olds in Scotland, Wales and North West have, on average, twice as many missing, decayed or filled teeth as 5-year-olds in the West Midlands and South East.
The number of burglaries has fallen by almost a half over the last decade. Young, lone parent and unemployed households are twice as likely to be burgled as the average household.
Households with no household insurance are around three times as likely to be burgled as those with insurance. Half of those on low income do not have any household insurance compared with a fifth for households on average incomes.
4/5% of people live in overcrowded conditions, compared with 6% a decade ago. Overcrowding is more than three times as prevalent in social rented housing as in owner-occupation
Although poorer households remain more likely to lack central heating, the proportion who do so is now actually less than that for households on average incomes in 1996/97. Those living in the private rented sector are the most likely to be without central heating.
The number of mortgage holders in serious arrears is now at its lowest level for fifteen years.
105,000 households were in temporary accommodation in 2004. This compares to 45,000 in 1997.
People of Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and African ethnicity are twice as likely to be out of work and wanting work compared with white people.
Although the rate of permanent exclusions for black pupils has halved in recent years, they are still three times more likely to be excluded than Whites.
Black young adults are seven times as likely as white young adults to be in prison.
Black adults are more than twice as likely not to have a bank or building society account as the population as a whole.
The number of pensioners living in households below 60% of median income was 2.2million in 2002/03. This is 21% of all pensioners.
Older pensioner couples are much more likely to be on low income than younger pensioner couples. The same is not true for single pensioners
The proportion of elderly people aged 75 and over who receive support from social services to help them live at home is three-fifths what is was a decade previously. County councils and unitary authorities support far fewer households than either urban or Welsh authorities.