United Kingdom’s Hidden Poor
The United Kingdom is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It boasts Europe’s second biggest economy after Germany. It also has a $2.313 trillion dollar GDP according to the CIA’s 2012 World Fact book website estimations. Given these statistics, the recent announcement that the U.K. suffers from almost untold amounts of deprivation in its society due to both financial and economic insecurities comes as a surprise.

The University of Bristol recently published a report which paints an extremely dark picture of life in the United Kingdom. According to the study, over half of the U.K.’s population is suffering from some type of financial trouble. The study also reported that about 5.5 million adults in the U.K. go without some types of essential clothing; in addition, four million children and adults are not fed properly by today’s standards.

The Trussell Trust, which is the largest provider of food banks in Great Britain, issued a report in which they said more than 350,000 people went to their various food banks for help in the past year, which, according to their figures, is almost triple the number of people that required food aid in 2012.

The Guardian published a report by a charity in the U.K. known as 4Children, which reported more than half of Britain’s poor children reside in homes that are cold or not heated. Also, more than 55 percent of the children surveyed stated that they felt embarrassment over the fact that their family was not well off, and 14 percent had experienced some sort of bullying as a result.

These types of numbers are indeed surprising from one of the richest and most well off countries in the world. The study by the University of Bristol also found that living conditions for the U.K.’s hidden poor have indeed slid backwards. The study showed that one-third of British households could not afford to adequately heat their homes in the winter of 2012 and that the number of homes that could not afford to adequately heat the living areas of their homes is at a record high of nine percent.

There was also an extreme lack of adequate food for children noted in the study. The study noted that over half a million children live in homes that cannot adequately feed them. The Guardian also reported that the “squeezed-middle” families with two children need to earn over $37,000 pounds per year in order to meet what the public deems as the lowest ordinary acceptable living standards.

Great Britain is one of the most wealthy, powerful, and influential countries in the world, but if it does not begin to seriously examine those families who fall through the cracks in the welfare system, the U.K. will begin to suffer the effects. These families are the ones who work but still are unable to make end meet at the end of the month. They are hidden because they do not fall into a definable category and thus get left behind by the welfare state.

 – Arthur Fuller

Sources: Bristol university, The Guardian Society Section, CIA, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Mirror