Press release issued 28 March 2013
Findings to be broadcast in special 'Breadline Britain' broadcast on ITV tonight [7.30pm]
The Poverty and Social Exclusion [PSE] project, led by academics at the University of Bristol and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council [ESRC], publishes its first report ‘The Impoverishment of the UK’ today [28 Mar]. The study aims to help to find solutions to tackle the problems of poverty and deprivation.
The PSE approach — now adopted by the UK Government and by a growing number of rich and developing countries — identifies people falling below a publicly-determined minimum standard of living. This method of measuring poverty was pioneered in 1983 and repeated in studies in 1990, 1999, 2002/03 and 2012. The project provides detailed, robust and definitive trends over 30 years.
Key findings from the PSE ‘The Impoverishment of the UK’ report reveal:
Professor David Gordon of the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at the University of Bristol and head of the project said: “The results present a remarkably bleak portrait of life in the UK today and the shrinking opportunities faced by the bottom third of UK society. About one third of people in the UK suffer significant difficulties and about a quarter have an unacceptably low standard of living.
“Moreover, this bleak situation will get worse as benefit levels fall in real term, real wages continue to decline and living standards are further squeezed.”
The study has found that a significant and growing proportion of the population, living conditions and opportunities have been going backwards. Housing and heating conditions, in particular, have deteriorated rapidly. The study reveals that:
Increasing numbers of children also lack items considered essential for a stimulating environment and for social participation and development.
There is widespread public agreement on what constitutes a minimally acceptable diet. Over 90 per cent agree that, for children, this means: three meals a day; fresh fruit and vegetables; and meat, fish or a vegetarian equivalent at least once a day.
The research shows that, in households where children go without one or more of these basic food necessities:
Professor David Gordon added: “It is not as a result of negligence but due to a lack of money that so many children are going without adequate food.”
In the study overall, more than one in four adults (28 per cent) have skimped on their own food in the past year so that others in the household may eat.
Significant proportions of the population find it difficult to cope on their current incomes:
Overall, the findings show that people feel poorer:
Joanna Mack from The Open University, who, with Stewart Lansley, devised the study method in 1983, said: “Levels of deprivation today are worse in a number of vital areas – from basic housing to key social activities - than at any point in the past thirty years.
“These trends are a deeply shocking indictment of 30 years of economic and social policy and reflect a rapid growth in inequality. This has meant that, though the economy has doubled in size during this period, those at the bottom have been increasingly left behind.”
SPECIAL BROADCAST - ITV TONIGHT [28 March]
The first results from this study will be broadcast on ITV at 7.30pm on Thursday 28 March in a special Tonight programme on ‘Breadline Britain’.
SURVEY DETAILSThe PSE study is based on two surveys conducted in 2012. The ‘Necessities of Life’ survey was carried out between May and June 2012 and is based on a sample of 1,447 adults aged 16 or over in the Britain and 1,015 in Northern Ireland. The living standards survey interviewed 5,193 households (4,205 in Britain and 988 in Northern Ireland) comprising 12,097 people (9,786 in Britain and 2,311 in Northern Ireland).
The full Living Standards questionnaire can be downloaded from the PSE website: www.poverty.ac.uk.
The PSE: UK research was financed by the Economic and Social Research Council. It is a major collaboration between the University of Bristol, Heriot-Watt University, The Open University, Queen's University Belfast, University of Glasgow and the University of York working with the NatCen and NISRA.
The results present a remarkably bleak portrait of life in the UK today and the shrinking opportunities faced by the bottom third of UK society. About one third of people in the UK suffer significant difficulties and about a quarter have an unacceptably low standard of living. Moreover, this bleak situation will get worse as benefit levels fall in real term, real wages continue to decline and living standards are further squeezed.