More than a million live in ‘extreme poverty’ in UK

Study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation finds more than a million, including 300,000 children, live in destitution.

UK poverty protest
An activist protests against high fuel prices in London [Lefteris Pitarakis/AP]

More than one million people in the UK, including 312,000 children, are living in destitution, according to research by a leading British charity.

The report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on Wednesday said that migrant groups were the most at risk from extreme poverty, but most of those living in the worst circumstances were born in the UK.

The organisation, which is politically neutral and conducts research into the social problems facing the country, defines a person as destitute when “they cannot afford to buy the essentials to eat, stay warm and dry, and keep clean”, for a prolonged period of time.

The key factors pushing people already in poverty into destitution included debt repayments, benefit delays or sanctions, and high living costs.

Migrants in particular faced difficulties due to the low level of benefits they received, as well as difficulty getting jobs.

The charity put the number of households living in destitution at 668,000 containing 1,252,000 people.

Single men aged between 25 and 34 were the demographic group most likely to be affected by extreme poverty.

Coping strategies

Researchers said those living in destitution adopted a number of approaches to reduce the impact of their conditions on their children.

Of those spoken to, 76 percent said they had gone without food, 71 percent said they did not have suitable clothes, and 56 percent said they had not been able to heat their homes.

Some said they regularly skipped meals so that their children would not go without food.

The foundation said addressing the causes of destitution required action on the root drivers of poverty, including unemployment, low pay and high living costs.

Source: Al Jazeera