Almost a quarter of the UK population do not have enough income to adequately support themselves and provide basic needs to their families.

From 2012 to 2020, child poverty has risen 4% to almost a third of children in the UK, pensioner poverty has risen 5% to almost a fifth of pensioners and almost half of both single-parent families and families with 3 or more children are in poverty. With factors such as the rise of inflation, rising energy prices and low benefits income weighing on the population, these statistics don’t look like they are going to improve.

What are the main causes of Poverty?

There are many factors that can cause a household to fall into poverty. Some of these causes are:

#1: Unemployment:

Those in unemployment struggle to acquire enough funds to stay out of poverty. Unemployment can also impact their future as they will not have enough savings or pension provision.

#2: Low paying jobs:

While someone may not be unemployed, it does not mean that earnings are enough to rise above the poverty line. The sad truth is that many jobs do not provide decent pay, security, or prospects.

#3: Lack of skills or education:

To avoid poverty, or to improve earning potential, people need to have a good set of skills or education. The more skills or education a person has, the easier it is to find a decent job that pays well and delivers the security and prospects that people need. Those with very little skills and education will inevitably find it harder.

#4: High costs:

Another reason is the high cost of living. Living costs include not only housing costs but also essential services and goods. These include electricity, gas, telephone, broadband, credit charges and council tax charges, among many others.

It is important to keep in mind that these costs may vary depending on where people live and any increased costs due to personal needs.

#5: An ineffective benefit system:

Unfortunately, the level of welfare benefit provided to many people is not enough for them to escape poverty. The reality is that the benefits system can be a bit confusing not to mention that it may cause delays and errors. In addition to all this, it might be risky when people are unemployed or when they try to increase their working hours and increase their pay.

#6: Weak relationships:

Children are one of the highest groups of individuals living in poverty in the UK. When a child lives in poverty it is also common that the child does not have supportive parenting. This ends up affecting the child’s development, emotional and social skills, and their education.

#7: The COVID-19 pandemic:

The pandemic has had a negative impact on almost everyone. Many small businesses have been forced to close, causing lots of people to lose their income. On top of that, quality of education has decreased across the board, with most school/university students being made to do remote lessons, widening the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged pupils in the UK.

The consequences of poverty in the UK

Without excess funds, those in poverty are the most vulnerable to any problems that come their way. Housing problems, health problems, teenage parenthood, and drug or alcohol problems all have a huge effect on those who live in poverty.

Children living in poverty also tend to have lower achievement levels, increasing the risk of being unemployed in adulthood, working in lower paying jobs and having lower savings in later life.

How can this be reduced?

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have stated that there are 5 steps to addressing the UK’s poverty issue:

·       Increasing incomes and reducing costs

·       Improving the effectiveness of the benefit system

·       Improve education standards

·       Strengthen families and communities

·       Promote long-term growth

It is a difficult task for the country to achieve all these goals. Some of the ways it can be done include:

·       Supporting parents. Helping them balance work and parenting

·       Giving parents on low incomes access to high quality, affordable childcare

·       Making sure schools can allow for children of all backgrounds to succeed

·       Improving the support young people receive when transitioning from school to college/university/working

·       Ensuring family incomes are sufficient