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UK Poverty 2017 Report

08 December 2017

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation published the UK Poverty 2017 report in December. The report examines poverty rates in the UK and looks at the pattern of change over the past 20 years. The report is saved under the Deprivation theme on info4St.Helens. Some of the key findings include:

  • Nearly a quarter of UK people lived in poverty 20 years ago. Over the last 20 years, the UK succeeded in reducing poverty significantly among those groups who had traditionally been at most risk - pensioners and some types of families with children. In recent years, poverty rates have started to rise again amongst these two groups.

  • Two factors drove the fall in poverty among families with children - first successive governments chose to increase support through the benefit and tax credit system and second there were big rises in employment and reductions in worklessness. Since 2013 these reductions in poverty have gone into reverse, largely due to the reductions in support offered by benefits and tax credits.

  • The increases in the costs of essential goods and services has exacerbated the financial pressures experienced by families

  • Living in poverty as a child increases the risk of low attainment at school and can limit opportunities for future work. For adults in poverty, those in low paid jobs are less likely to receive training and progress onto better paid jobs, and are less likely to save money or pay into a pension.

  • The largest falls in pensioner poverty occurred between 1998/99 and 2004/05 due to two factors - first increased state benefit income, particularly the Pension Credit Guarantee boosted the incomes of the lowest income pensioners. Second, more pensioners retired owning their own homes meaning their housing costs were lower than those still renting. In recent years these two drivers have weakened; housing costs for pensioners still renting have risen and growth in occupational pensions has tended to benefit better off pensioners rather than those on the lowest incomes.

  • Solving UK poverty is complex. The continuing rise in employment is no longer leading to lower poverty. Poverty in the UK today is split fairly evenly between workless households and those in work. Changes to benefits and tax credits for working age families and rising inflation is having a greater impact on lower income families, coupled with most people on low incomes having little or no savings and not paying into a pension, it is creating a potential problem for the future. Also, with fewer people owning their own homes, in the future more older people are likely to rent and have higher housing costs in retirement. The impact of poverty on physical and mental health and family relationships adds to the disadvantage experienced by those living on low incomes. Enabling those in poverty to improve their incomes and reduce their costs, as well as addressing the negative impacts of low income will help to prevent future poverty.

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