THE number of households falling below society's minimum
standard of living has more than doubled over the past 30 years,
the largest ever study of deprivation in the UK suggests.
The Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) project, led by the
University of Bristol, found that while the UK economy doubled over
the past 30 years, the number of families experiencing poverty and
deprivation rose sharply.
The results of the PSE project are based on two surveys,
involving 5193 households.
The study found that 33 per cent of households endured living
standards below the accepted minimum - defined as going without
three or more "basic necessities of life", such as being able
adequately to feed and clothe themselves and their children, and to
heat and insure their homes. In the early 1980s, the comparable
figure was 14 per cent.
Professor David Gordon, from the Townsend Centre for
International Poverty Research, at the University of Bristol, said:
"The Coalition Government aimed to eradicate poverty by tackling
the causes of poverty. Their strategy has clearly failed. The
available high quality scientific evidence shows that poverty and
deprivation have increased since 2010, the poor are suffering from
deeper poverty, and the gap between the rich and poor is
The study says that 1.5 million children live in homes which
their parents or carers cannot afford to heat, and about 5.5
million adults go without essential clothing. More than one in five
adults has also had to borrow money in order to pay for everyday
More than one in four adults (28 per cent) has skimped on their
own food in the past year so that others in the household may eat.
Despite this, more than half a million children live in families
who cannot afford to feed them properly. The number of households
in arrears for bills has also risen over the past decade: the most
common overdue bills are for utilities and council tax or rent and
The PSE project argues that its findings dispel the idea that
poverty in general and child poverty in particular are a
consequence of a lack of paid work. It found that the majority of
children who suffered from multiple deprivations lived in small
families with one or two siblings, with both parents, and had at
least one parent who was employed, and were white.
Last Sunday was designated Poverty Sunday. The Church Urban Fund
has produced several tools to help parishes find out poverty levels
in their area and respond.