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Poverty in the United Kingdom

POVERTY IN THE UNITED KINGDOMThe United Kingdom has a population of approximately 68 million people, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet and live in poverty. As of the parliament’s most recent studies in 2022, nearly one in five people live in poverty in the United Kingdom.

The Issue of Poverty

The issue of poverty has been a problem that has long plagued the United Kingdom. Many of these issues can be attributed to a decade of public service cuts. This has pushed many families to the brink of poverty and many others into poverty.

As of 2021, the poverty rate among working households is as high as it has ever been in Britain. Due to steadily increasing property prices, private sector rent hikes and record childcare costs, working families are adopting unhealthy lifestyles and using high-cost credit to pay off debts.

Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a member of IPPR’s welfare state advisory panel states that these families “are trying as hard as they can but still finding it impossible to feed their families and provide a safe roof over their heads,” the Big Issue reports.

Many of these factors are financially related, such as spiraling housing costs among low-income households, as well as low wages and modest pay rises, according to The Guardian. Other factors are systemically based, such as a constant lack of flexible as well as affordable childcare and a social security system that has proven unable to keep up with rising rental costs. Families who are unable to buy a home have to rent from private landlords. These systemic issues affect them the worst due to a benefits system that rewards landlords as opposed to its citizens.

The Impact on Children

According to The Children Society of the United Kingdom, 4.3 million children live in poverty in the United Kingdom, as of 2021. These children are less likely to have a strong support system around them, due to their guardians devoting their energy to surviving with the few resources they have. This could put these children at an increased risk of homelessness, addiction and exploitation by criminal gangs, according to the Big Issue.


Most experts agree that the key to reducing the poverty rate in the United Kingdom is reforming the welfare system. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) feels that “without long-term reforms, the government will face a perpetual choice between paying constantly rising social security bills or allowing the number of working families in poverty to increase unchecked, as is currently the case,” the Big Issue reports.

Thankfully, there are numerous organizations that are hard at work to ensure that the cycle of poverty in the United Kingdom comes to an end. The organization at the forefront of that fight is Oxfam. Since its establishment in 1942 it has been committed to “a kinder, fairer world – a world less divided by borders, money, race or gender” said Oxfam’s CEO Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah.

In the year 2021 alone, Oxfam assisted 12.8 million people who were at risk or facing poverty. With these far-reaching efforts in the face of such daunting statistics and the continued fight of the British people, the future of the United Kingdom appears much brighter than in recent memory.

– Austin Hughes
Photo: Flickr