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Although the United Kingdom (U.K.) is one of the largest economies in the world, the persistent battle with poverty is one that has plagued the nation for decades. Both the need for work and the average income level are nearly stagnant with little room for growth.

Persistent poverty is defined as experiencing low income continually for three or more years. For solutions to become clearer, the general public must become acquainted with the top 10 facts about poverty in the U.K.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in the U.K.

  1. Britain has a lower proportion of its population living in relative poverty than most other European countries. Relative poverty is defined as a household with a disposable income rate of less than 60 percent, often referred to as “at risk” poverty.
  2. This means that most impoverished people living the in U.K. fall under the term “persistent poverty,” pointing to more households having an even smaller disposable income as well as experiencing poverty for an extended period of time.
  3. There are 13.3 million people in poverty in the U.K., and about 4.1 million of that population are children under the age of 18. Couples with children are five times more likely to raise them in an impoverished household than childless couples.
  4. Children in large families are at a far greater risk of poverty – 42 percent of children living in families with three or more children live in poverty. When accounted for childcare costs, an extra 130,000 children and their parents fall below the poverty line.
  5. Last year, around two-thirds of U.K. citizens took on jobs that paid less than a living wage, which resulted in more part-time work and more citizens needing to take multiple jobs. In recent years, there has been an economic push to increase the rate of pay for low-income workers, but progress is slow. In addition, once a family member is in a low-income job, it can be very difficult to move out.
  6. At least half of the U.K.’s impoverished population is working full-time and another 30 percent take part-time work. In Scotland alone, ten percent of working adults live in severe poverty.
  7. Many of the households on or near the poverty line (making less than £15,000 per year) spend more than a quarter of their income on housing. In fact, the poorest private renters and homeowners spend more than half of their income on housing. Around 5.8 million in the U.K. rent private housing — double since the last decade.
  8. Of the nine million people aged 14-24 living in the U.K., 2.7 million (30 percent) live in poverty — an amount higher than any other collective age group. Part of the reason that the rate among young people is higher is that they are more likely to live in privately-rented housing and spend a greater share of their income on housing costs.
  9. A higher proportion of women were persistently poor when compared to that of men — 8.2 percent compared to 6.3 percent, respectively.
  10. Women are 14 percent more likely to live in households with income levels that fall below the poverty line. As a result, single-parent homes lead by women are less likely to receive better healthcare, education and options to private housing.

A Bright Future

The United Kingdom continues to struggle in the terms of its poverty, but understanding these top 10 facts about poverty in the U.K. creates stepping-stones to a brighter future and helps alleviate people out of poverty.

– Tresa Rentler
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in SingaporeTo many, Singapore is an eccentric country with gleaming skyscrapers and a wealthy population. In essence, those with this vision are not wrong, seeing that the country is one of the wealthiest and most developed states in the world, simultaneously boasting the world’s highest concentration of millionaires. But, it is also home to the second-biggest inequality gap among advanced economies of Asia. Here, poverty is hidden. The top 10 facts about hunger in Singapore uncover the realities behind a country that many tend to overlook or simply ignore them.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Singapore

  1. Upwards of 23,000 children in Singapore are malnourished. Additionally, basic needs are inaccessible to 1 in 10 Singaporeans, including essentials such as food and shelter. But, the issue is larger than just putting food on the table and providing for the family. Access to healthy and nutritious food is not a reality for most, and consequently, such unhealthy diets lead to further health issues and chronic disease.
  2. Hidden hunger is real. Hidden hunger is when someone is suffering from malnutrition without feeling hunger. This has recently become a critical problem, specifically among migrant workers where the common food staple is rice. A diet reliant solely on rice, however, lacks adequate and essential nutrients, which leads to malnutrition. To combat this threatening social issue, an organization called BoP HUB is teaming up with a Dutch-based life sciences company by the name of DSM. The two organizations are focusing on fortifying rice, the Singaporean staple, so workers and those suffering from hidden hunger will have access to a nutritious alternative to regular rice, essentially turning meals from empty carbs to healthy carbs.
  3. Relative poverty is Singapore poverty. Relative poverty, more apparent in developed nations, regions and cities, is essentially the cutoff line for how much a household should be able to afford in terms of basic necessities. Even more so, relative poverty includes the monetary minimum needed to avoid “social exclusion.” In more developed nations, there are luxury goods that one can certainly live without, but, when lacking, will likely result in being socially marginalized and significantly limited in one’s career. Around 10-12 percent of households in Singapore fall below the basic living expenditure of $1,250 per month; however, 23-26 percent of households fall below the threshold of $3,000, the unwritten cutoff line that deems one to be either socially excluded or not.
  4. The complexity of poverty in Singapore is not understood. It is easy to assume that hunger doesn’t exist among the well-educated population of an affluent city-state, but unmet social needs are real and remain poorly understood. Associate Professor John Donaldson of the Singapore Management University (SMU) School of Social Sciences states that “Singapore’s economy developed rapidly, and the ‘Third World’ form of poverty has disappeared. Yet, many people fall into a type of ‘First World’ poverty.” According to economists and statistics, between 10-14 percent of Singaporeans suffer from severe financial trouble and pressure and are often unable to meet basic needs. Ultimately, hunger remains one of the most prominent issues.
  5. The Food Bank of Singapore has accepted the challenge of eradicating hunger. This organization receives donations of surplus food from retailers, distributors and manufacturers. Despite losing commercial value, the foods are still safe to consume. With 800,000 meals delivered monthly, the Food Bank is helping to curb the tide of hunger and give Singapore’s forgotten an opportunity to thrive. Furthermore, the organization works to spread awareness about hunger and decrease the stigma for those in need.
  6. The Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Singapore as the second-most food secure country in the world, behind only the United States. Based on affordability, availability and quality and safety, Singapore is ahead of major food-producing nations despite its heavy dependence on food imports. With only 1 percent of the land being dedicated to agriculture, Singapore must import 90 percent of the country’s food, yet they have found a way to secure food. Through the diversification of food sources, the economy and food security are not highly impacted by other nation’s economic decline because the variety of import countries allows for flexibility.
  7. Local food production has increased. The Agri-Food and Veterinary (AVA) and the Food Fund have allowed Singapore to increase their local vegetable production by 30 percent over the past decade. Upwards of 40 percent of local farms are benefiting from the help of investment in advancements and new farming techniques such as hydroponics.
  8. Rising obesity in children and young adults foretells an increase in diabetes. Rates for diabetes in adults have already risen from 8.6 percent in 1992 to 12.9 percent in 2015. As a result of working life and less physical activity, obesity has been rising at a faster rate for the population under 40 years of age. Moreover, people continue to eat the same amount of food, but without the benefit of physical activity to keep them in check.
  9. Malnutrition among the elderly is increasing. In 2015, Tan Tock Seng Hospital estimated that about 30 percent of the elderly population were at risk of malnutrition. In such a developed country, this is a surprise to many. Malnutrition in the elderly increases the risk of medical complications, including infections, fractures and compromised recovery and rehabilitation.
  10. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030. This U.N. goal of “Zero Hunger” aims to eradicate food insecurity, providing sufficient and nutritious food to the population, especially the most vulnerable, all year round. The organization One Singapore is echoing this goal through foodbank programs working to eradicate poverty and hunger.

The top 10 facts about hunger in Singapore shine a light on the surprising challenges of malnutrition and poverty in a country of so much wealth. In forthcoming decades, there is hope that food security for the most vulnerable – children, elderly, and migrant workers – will increase. As a country with such a powerful reputation, it is vital to harbor awareness of the country’s struggles if such pervasive issues are to be alleviated.

Mary Grace Miller

Photo: Flickr

Overall Absolute Relative Poverty
Many reports discuss the high and unacceptable rates of poverty in wealthy countries such as the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. This can be confusing to readers when they think of images of people starving and dying of preventable conditions in the developing world. It is important to note that poverty in the developed world is very different in the developing world; therefore poverty means something different in the US than it does in does in the Democratic Republic of the Condo. Discussed below are terms frequently used to describe the different kinds of poverty: absolute, overall, and relative poverty.

 

Examining Absolute, Overall, and Relative Poverty

 

Absolute Poverty

In 1995 the United Nations defined absolute poverty as severe deprivation of basic human needs including food, shelter, safe drinking water, sanitation, healthcare, education, and access to information. This deprivation can either come from a lack of income or a lack of services.

Overall Poverty

The United Nations defined overall poverty as the lack of income or resources to avoid hunger or malnutrition, morbidity and mortality from illness, limited access to education, homelessness or inadequate housing, and social discrimination or exclusion. Overall poverty occurs in all countries, it is widespread in developing countries and is occurs in pockets in developed countries.

Relative Poverty

Relative poverty is defined in relation to the income or consumption of others in the same region. For example, a girl who attends a school where all the other teenagers own smartphones when her parents cannot afford to buy her a cell phone would be experiencing relative poverty; she is poor in relation to those around her.

In the same way, poverty lines can be determined using absolute or relative poverty.

Absolute Poverty Line

Absolute poverty lines are based on absolute minimum standards of what families should be able to afford (either through income or services) in order to meet their basic needs. This is normally calculated by the amount needed to feed a family and cover basic necessities taking into account the cost-of-living in the area.

Relative Poverty Line

Here poverty can be measured in relation to the income of other members of the population, for example the poverty line may be an income that is less than 50% of the median income in the country. The OECD typically uses measures similar to this to measure poverty in developed countries.

It is argued that as large percentage of the population in developing countries are very poor and do not have the resources to meet their basic needs, poverty in these countries should be measured in absolute terms.

Therefore when reports are published on amount of poverty in the US it is important to remember that they are mostly likely talking about overall or relative poverty, whereas poverty in the developing world is often a mixture of overall and absolute poverty.

Elizabeth Brown

Sources: The World Bank, UNESCO, PSE
Photo: Nathan Colquhoun