14 million at risk of poverty and social exclusion

14 million people in the UK were at risk of poverty and social exclusion  in 2011, according to a new report from the Office for National Statistics. The report also looks at how the UK compares with other EU countries on a range of poverty indicators, and at recent trends over time.


Key points

  • In 2011, 22.7 per cent of the UK population were considered to be at risk of poverty or social exclusion, equivalent to 14.0 million people – slightly lower than the EU average of 24.1 per cent. People are defined as being at risk of poverty or social exclusion if they experience at least one of three conditions – have household income below the poverty threshold, are severely materially deprived, or live in a household with low work intensity.
  • 16.2 per cent of people in the UK were at risk of poverty in 2011, down from 18.7 per cent in 2008. However, this fall was at least partly explained by a real-terms fall in median income, leading to a reduction in the poverty threshold.
  • 5.1 per cent of people in the UK were considered to be experiencing severe material deprivation, compared with an EU average of 8.8 per cent. The UK's severe material deprivation rate was broadly unchanged since 2005 when comparable figures were first produced. The severe material deprivation rate measures the proportion of the population that cannot afford at least four of nine items including an annual holiday and a washing machine.
  • The percentage of people who said they were unable to meet unexpected financial expenses had increased considerably since the start of the economic downturn, up from 26.6 per cent in 2007 to 36.6 per cent in 2011. The proportion of people unable to afford an annual holiday also increased from 21.4 per cent to 29.7 per cent over this period.
  • The proportion of people in the UK living in households with low work intensity fell to 11.5 per cent in 2011, from 13.1 per cent the previous year. Despite this fall, the level of low work intensity in the UK remained higher than in most other EU countries.

The Poverty and Social Exclusion project will be presenting the first results of its own research, including up-to-date figures on the extent and nature of poverty and social exclusion in the UK, in March or April.

Source: Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK and EU, 2005–2011, Office for National Statistics
LinksReport | NPI blog post | TUC press release | TUC blog post | Daily Mail report | Guardian report (1) | Guardian report (2)

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