Inequality remains a persistent problem throughout the UK

When meeting basic needs is often a struggle, families face difficult choices with every pound they spend. Pay for food or electricity? Heating bills or housing? Nappies or school supplies? Every decision made means the family has to get by without something else and so the vicious cycle continues.

Poverty is most commonly the result of unemployment, low-paying jobs, high living costs and lack of affordable housing. What’s more, poverty can cause long-term health problems or exacerbate existing conditions. For low-income families, paying expensive heating bills can often be a struggle, leading to cold homes and a deterioration in health and well-being in the longer-term. And if serious health problems hit, it can be difficult to hold down a stable job.

For children, growing up in poverty can often mean missing out on the things that many of us take for granted, such as inviting friends to stay, going on school trips and having holidays. This can have an impact on their well-being, confidence and overall life chances.

Fast facts

  • Nearly half of children in single-parent families live in poverty (49%) compared with one in four of those in couple families (25%).

  • Approximately 30% of children in the UK live in poverty.

  • Nearly a third of people living in a family with a disabled member live in poverty, compared to 19% of those who do not have a disabled family member.

  • Estimates suggest that eliminating child poverty in the UK would save the lives of 1,400 children under the age of 15 every year.

  • The poorest 20% of children are up to 3 times more likely to have difficulties with their mental health, compared with the richest 20% of children.

Building a different life

There is no easy solution to ending poverty in the UK. Underlying causes such as unemployment and low-paying jobs, as well as a lack of affordable housing, all need to be addressed. Organisations such as foodbanks help with everyday needs and provide a valuable safety net for individuals or families faced with job loss or unforeseen expenses. Sadly, these services only provide short-term relief. Giving families and individuals the tools to lift themselves out of poverty in the long-term will require serious commitment at government level, with the support of experts and charities.

You can make an impact on poverty in the UK. Take action with our WE Scare Hunger or WE Won’t Rest campaigns, fundraise for a local charity working to alleviate poverty in your community or petition your local MP or councillor to take a stand against poverty.

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