Adequate standard of living / poverty – UK Government assessment
Although rates of relative poverty have remained static for working-age adults, there has been an increase in the number of children living in relative poverty in recent years. Changes to the welfare system have disproportionately affected the poorest in society, as well as those with certain protected characteristics. The UK Government has taken positive steps to protect income and jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. But the pandemic is likely to have a significant impact on socio-economic rights and the full impact is yet to be understood.
- There are 5 million people in the UK in relative poverty and 12.9 million people in absolute poverty after housing costs, which represents a fifth of the population.
- There has been a concerning rise in the proportion of people in in-work poverty since 2012-13.
- Relative child poverty has increased since 2010, and is currently at 30%.
- Changes to social security have potentially contributed to an additional 600,000 children living in relative poverty between 2010-11 and 2018-19.
- UK-wide changes to social security, taxes and public spending between 2010 and 2017 were significantly regressive and are projected to disproportionately affect the poorest in society as well as women, disabled people, ethnic minority people and lone parents.
- Reductions to the benefit cap, and the two-child limit for certain benefits hit families with more children particularly hard and there are widespread concerns that the five-week wait for Universal Credit has pushed people into financial crisis.
- There was a 74% increase in the number of emergency food supplies provided by Trussell Trust foodbanks across Britain between 2015-16 and 2019-20, and demand soared by a further 89% at the beginning of the pandemic, compared with April 2019.
- Migrants are at a greater risk of poverty than those born in the UK.
- There have been reports of an increase in the number of refugees and asylum seekers facing poverty, and people and households with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) face high levels of homelessness and destitution.
- In May 2020, the England and Wales High Court ruled that the NRPF immigration-condition breached the Human Rights Act 1998, which bans inhuman and degrading treatment.
- The pandemic is set to have a significant impact on socio-economic rights – the earnings of young adults, many ethnic minority people, women, and those on the lowest incomes are likely to be the worst affected.
- The number of Universal Credit claimants in Britain increased from 3 million in March 2020 to 5.3 million in May 2020 and the lack of a corresponding uplift to legacy benefits alongside the uplift for Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits left some disabled claimants unable to meet the additional costs of the pandemic.
- If enhancements to basic benefits are reversed in 2021, the number of people living in relative poverty in Britain is predicted to increase by one million in 2021/22.
- Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010, which focused on socio-economic disadvantage, has not been implemented in England.
Read more about the UK and Welsh Governments’ actions on adequate standard of living / poverty.