PSE report reveals impoverished nation

A stark picture of the levels and extent of deprivation in the UK today is revealed in the Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) first report ‘The Impoverishment of the UK’. The research finds that for a significant proportion of the population their living standards fall below minimum levels and for some, living conditions and opportunities have been going backwards.

Among the key findings are:

Over 30 million people (almost half the population) are suffering some degree of financial insecurity.

  • Almost 12 million people are too poor to engage in common social activities considered necessary by the majority of the population.
  • Around 4 million children and adults are not properly fed by today’s standards.
  • Around 2.5 million children live in homes that are damp.
  • Around 1.5 million children live in households that cannot afford to heat their home.

The PSE approach, now adopted by the UK Government and by a growing number of rich and developing countries, identifies people falling below a publicly-determined minimum standard of living. This method of measuring poverty was pioneered in 1983 and repeated in studies in 1990, 1999, 2002/03 and 2012 allowing trends over 30 years to be tracked.

Today 33% of the UK population suffers from multiple deprivation by the standards set by the public. It was 14% in 1983.

'The results present a remarkably bleak portrait of life in the UK today and the shrinking opportunities faced by the bottom third of UK society. About one third of people in the UK suffer significant difficulties and about a quarter have an unacceptably low standard of living', said Professor David Gordon of the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research in Bristol, and head of the project. 'Moreover this bleak situation will get worse as benefit levels fall in real term, real wages continue to decline and living standards are further squeezed.'

Housing and heating conditions, in particular, have deteriorated rapidly. The number of households unable to heat the living areas of their homes is at a record high; now 9% compared to 3% in the 1990s and 5% in 1983. The number of households unable to afford damp-free homes has also risen since 1983; from 6% to10%.

'Levels of deprivation today are worse in a number of vital areas, from basic housing to key social activities, than at any point in the past 30 years’, added Joanna Mack from The Open University, who, with Stewart Lansley, devised the study method in 1983. 'These trends are a deeply shocking indictment of 30 years of economic and social policy and reflect a rapid growth in inequality. This has meant that, though the economy has doubled in size during this period, those at the bottom have been increasingly left behind.'

Read the full Report

'The impoverishment of the UK' by David Gordon, Joanna Mack, Stewart Lansley, Gill Main, Shailen Nandy, Demi Patsios, Marco Pomati and the PSE team.

Download the Press releases

Press release for the UK findings

Press release for the findings for Northern Ireland

Press release for the findings for Scotland

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