UK poor population grows by 700,000: Report
The UK’s poor population has grown by 700,000 people over the past four years, a new report shows.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) report showed that 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners were now living in poverty, putting the total impoverished population of the UK at 14 million people.
Rising housing costs, constant increase in food and energy prices, debts and the average Briton’s struggle to contribute to a pension were some of the key reasons behind the increase in figures, according to the report.
“The prospects for solving UK poverty are worrying. The continuing rise in employment is no longer leading to lower poverty. Changes to benefits and tax credits for working-age families are reducing the incomes of many of those on low incomes,” the report stated.
Alan Milburn, the head of the UK Social Mobility Commission, and three other board members resigned Saturday to protest the government’s failure in creating a “fairer Britain.”
Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure to provide affordable homes by ending a four-year freeze on working age benefits and tax credits and spending more money on a greater house-building program.
“These worrying figures suggest that we are at a turning point in our fight against poverty,” Campbell Robb, chief executive of the JRF, said.
“Political choices, wage stagnation and economic uncertainty mean that hundreds of thousands more people are now struggling to make ends meet. This is a very real warning sign that our hard-fought progress is in peril,” he added.
“Action to tackle child and pensioner poverty has provided millions of families with better living standards and financial security,” he continued.
“Record employment is not leading to lower poverty, changes to benefits and tax credits are reducing incomes and crippling costs are squeezing budgets to breaking point,” Robb noted.
Criticizing the government’s new budget plans, the report warned that it offered little to ease the strain and put low income households’ finances on a firm footing.
“As we prepare to leave the EU, we have to make sure that our country and our economy works for everyone and doesn’t leave even more people behind,” it added.