New Study finds Staggering 7.4 Million British Working Class Living in Poverty

“The UK economy is not working for low-income families. The economy has been growing since 2010 but during this time high rents, low wages and cuts to working-age benefits mean that many families, including working households, have actually seen their risk of poverty grow.”

Screengrab from Meet White Dee, Season 1/Episode 1 of Benefits Street. (Channel 4/YouTube)

You don’t need a soothsayer to tell you that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. It’s the international trend sweeping across the world. Although governments all over the world claim to be reducing poverty and inequality, the reality on the trenches doesn’t support the numerous doctored statistics we are constantly being fed.

Even in the so-called developed countries, the future looks gloomy.  In the United States for example, there are approximately 45 million Americans living in poverty. Recently, we told you how the issue of poverty was completely abandoned during the 2016 United States Presidential debates. During three early debates, “ISIS” and “terrorism” were mentioned 21 times, yet poverty wasn’t mentioned once. It is mindboggling that one of the most pressing issues in the United States could be largely ignored during such a prestigious platform.


To prove to you that the gap between the rich and poor is seriously widening, we look at figures provided by the global anti-poverty organization—Oxfam. According to Oxfam, in 2015, the richest 1% owned 48% of all global wealth. In 2016, 62 individuals owned as much wealth as half of the world’s population.  But in 2017, the wealth gap is wider than ever: 8 multi-billionaires on the planet — which includes 6 Americans — own more than the combined wealth of half the world’s population.

Many people around the world are falling deep into poverty. Poverty is getting worse among the working class.  A new report released by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has revealed that over 7 million people in the United Kingdom are living in poverty, despite being part of a working family. The study specifically mentioned that the price of private rented accommodation has soared in the country, forcing many to spend larger portions of their income on it just to survive.


The report also found that disability is increasingly linked to the changing nature of poverty. For example, if the costs of disability are taken into account, half of those in poverty are either disabled or living with a disabled person.

JRF cautioned the British government to address the situation properly before the country officially withdraws from the European Union.

Before this study, a study by the New Policy Institute had stated that overall poverty levels have remained flat since 2010 in the United Kingdom, due to recovery of the economy. There were 13.5 million British living in households classified as poor in 2014-15, defined as below 60% of the median once housing costs are deducted. In fact, this figure represents 21% of the United Kingdom’s population.

But according to JFR, 55% of those in poverty are now in working households. This comprises a total of 7.4 million people – 1.1 million more than in 2010-11 – and among them, 2.6 million children.

The report said there are increased numbers of people living in expensive and unsecured private rental properties, with the number of people in poverty in privately rented apartments doubling in a decade to 4.5 million.


”Failures in the housing market are a significant driver of poverty. This is primarily, but not entirely, due to costs,” the report said.

The report revealed the number of all rental evictions has risen by 60% over five years to 37,000 annually. Over the same period, mortgage repossessions have fallen from 23,000 to 3,300.

Among those in the bottom 20% of the income bracket – those who live in privately rented homes – 73% pay more than a third of their income on rent, according to the report.

The data in the report further showed that the number of private renters living in poverty has doubled over the past decade, meaning there are now as many private renters in poverty as social renters.

Cuts to benefits were also identified as a factor of poverty. The report said: “Increasingly, the social security system does not cover the full cost of essentials for those on low incomes, such as rent and council tax.”

This was likely to get worse with the reduction in the overall benefit cap, the study said, with 112,000 families expected to experience a reduction in income because of the cap, up from the current 20,000.

The report also noted that rising levels of unemployment are also contributing to many people falling deeper and deeper into poverty.


The Guardian quoted Helen Barnard, the head of analysis at JRF as saying: “The UK economy is not working for low-income families. The economy has been growing since 2010 but during this time high rents, low wages and cuts to working-age benefits mean that many families, including working households, have actually seen their risk of poverty grow.”

The country’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Debbie Abrahams, said the report showed how the current British government has mismanaged the economy.

“The true impact of six wasted years of Tory austerity, with 7.4 million people in poverty in working households. This government has no plan to tackle stagnant wages and rising insecurity, choosing instead to make the poorest pay for their economic mismanagement,” she said.

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  1. I believe this is true for all parts of the world, not just for the UK.
    We constantly se economic growth fuelled by only a select segment of industry while many others are left behind.
    We have no strategy to come with those who’s jobs become obsolete due to rising levels of technology or globalisation.
    We are a profit oriented society which only cares about those who succeed and has no contingency for those who don’t
    It’s not an easy problem to solve, but it is one of the defining problems of our times.
    We should strive to put less accent on the bottom line and more on living balanced and happy lives.


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