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Survey finds sharp rise in deprivation

27 June 2014

by a staff reporter


Exhortation: the entrance of the Old Bailey

Exhortation: the entrance of the Old Bailey

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 widening."

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 essentials.

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 mortgage payments.

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.


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