View all news

What does poverty look like in the UK today?

10 November 2017

A new book published this week provides unique and detailed insights into the nature and extent of poverty and social exclusion in the UK.

Written by a team of leading academics, and funded by the ESRC, the book entitled 'Poverty and social exclusion in the UKVol 1 - The nature and extent of the problem', draws on large-scale, representative data from the UK Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) Survey 2012.

Defining poverty as those whose lack of resources force them to live below a publicly agreed minimum standard, the authors, including several members of the School for Policy Studies, provide insights into poverty as it affects different populations through the recent period of austerity.

By highlighting areas where more development is desperately needed, the book reflects on where government policies have made an impact and considers potential future developments. For example, how we include the experiences and perspectives of diverse and heterogeneous groups - ranging from the young and old, parents and children, ethnic groups, men and women and disabled people - while maintaining a comparable measure of poverty. 

The book’s co-editor, Gill Main said, “The findings present a stark picture: Poverty in the UK is increasing, attitudes towards the necessities of life are becoming less generous, and vulnerable groups are suffering disproportionately in ways that are often obscured by less nuanced poverty measures.” However, she also notes that it can only portray a snapshot of a single point in time, and adds, "policy changes strongly suggest that if the survey were conducted today, findings would be even starker.”

The book provides key messages for academics, policy makers, practitioners, and the media, and hopes to be influential in developing policy and practice more likely to effectively reduce and eliminate poverty in the UK.

Further information

The book is based on a major research project, Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK (PSE: UK) the largest ever study into poverty in the UK, led by Professor David Gordon and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.  It contains contributions from several members of the School for Policy Studies including, Prof. Esther Dermott, Dr Eldin Fahmy, Prof. David Gordon (PI), Prof. Pauline Heslop, Christina Pantazis and Dr Demi Patsios

A companion volume Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK Volume 2 focuses on the different aspects of poverty and social exclusion identified in the study.

For further information on international poverty research at the University of Bristol, visit the Bristol Poverty Institute

Edit this page