The Impoverishment of Britain continues 

Marlyn Glen

5 April 2013

Last month’s report –“The Impoverishment of Britain” from the Economic and Social Research Council, the largest- ever study of poverty carried out in this country, produced evidence of shocking levels of minimum living standards that have worsened since the Thatcher era of Breadline Britain.( download report )

The main findings from its work last year, reproduced in its own words, are :  

Over 30 million people (almost half the population) are suffering to some degree from financial insecurity.

Almost 18 million in the UK today cannot afford adequate housing conditions.

Roughly 14 million cannot afford one or more essential household goods.

Almost 12 million people are too poor to engage in common social activities considered necessary by the majority of the population

About 5.5 million adults go without essential clothing.

Around 4 million children and adults are not properly fed by today’s standards.

Almost 4 million children go without at least two of the things they need.

Around 2.5 million children live in homes that are damp

Around 1.5 million children live in households that cannot afford to heat their home

In addition, the survey asked people to assess what possessions and activities they regarded as necessary for everyday life and which people should be able to afford.

Attitudes towards what are considered as necessities have hardened, shaped by still living in the longest economic downturn since the end of Wold War II.

In previous surveys over the past three decades, the majority of those questioned indicated the following as essential , - being able to :

Give presents to family and friends on special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas

Have a week’s holiday away from home.

Have a ‘best’ outfit for special occasions or replacing worn out clothes with new (not second hand) ones

Replace worn out furniture

Have children’s friends to visit for tea or a snack once a fortnight.

Today, none of these command majority support, and tough financial choices mean that people now go without things that they considered to be necessary in the past.

For those millions of people trapped by standards of living that would have been regarded as wholly unacceptable in previous decades, life for them will only get worse as benefit cuts roll out this month.

Individual poverty intensifies insecurity, family poverty even more so.

At the same time as this research on inequality was undertaken, official government figures reveal the security that resides at the other end of society .

The richest 10 per cent own 40 per cent of the wealth of the UK, according to the Office of National Statistics

These 10 per cent at the top are now are 850 times more wealthy than the 10 per cent at the bottom.

Just under £1 million in assets gains a person entry into the top 10 per cent of the wealthiest strata , while assets of £2.8 million qualifies for entry into the top 1 per cent

At the same time, half of households in the UK have just £400 ready cash available.

“We’re all in this together,” David Cameron says while dispensing £100,000 largesse in tax cuts to millionaires.

He may say that we are all in this together, but some are more in it than others, and others more are completely disengaged from it altogether, people such as those live in poverty and those who live with insecurity and an uncertain future.

Link : Videos  - Breadline Britain - Stories from the Frontline

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