‘An estimated 2.4m working people were in poverty in 2017, of which 31% also experienced in-work poverty in 2016, new data has shown.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also revealed that a third of people cannot face unexpected expenses, while 23.7% cannot afford a one-week annual holiday.
However, persistent poverty rates in the UK in 2017 are comparable to levels in 2008, equivalent to roughly 4.7 million people, or 7.8% of the population.
These are defined as when an individual or family experiences a relative low income in both the current year and for at least two out of the three preceding years.
Persistent poverty in the UK is lower than the average for the rest of Europe. UK rates are eighth lowest in the European Union and 3.5 percentage points lower than the EU28 average rate of 11.3%. Among EU member states, Czechia has the lowest persistent poverty rate, while Romania has the highest – 4.4% and 19.1%. France and Slovenia have similar persistent poverty rates to the UK – 8.0% and 8.2% respectively.
Peter Briffett, co-founder and CEO of the income streaming app, Wagestream, which campaigns against payday poverty, said: “For nearly five million people in the UK to be living in persistent poverty is a damning indictment of the state we’re in.
“It’s the 21st Century and yet for far too many households life is borderline Dickensian.
“High inflation and negligible wage growth will have accentuated persistent poverty in recent years, although some will invariably point the finger at austerity measures.
“Hopefully strengthening wage growth and inflation returning to target will be helping more people out of persistent poverty.
“For many people, the knock-on effect of persistent poverty is recourse to high cost credit simply to keep their heads above water and this only makes matters worse. The result is a cycle of debt from which it is near impossible to break free.
“This is exacerbated by the convention that sees most people paid just once a month, which is at odds with our American cousins who are usually paid every two weeks.
“Thankfully more and more UK companies are adopting income streaming pay structures, which are fast becoming the most effective way to prevent UK workers entering debt cycles that are created by bad actors in the high interest credit space.”
The figures come in the wake of allegations made by a UN poverty expert that the UK has violated its human rights obligations through sustained and widespread cuts to social support.’…