Laura Sharman 09 December 2020

Study highlights ‘appalling’ rise in destitution in the UK

The number of people experiencing destitution in the UK has increased by 54% in two years, a new study has found.

The bi-annual report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) found around 2.4 million people experienced destitution in 2019, a 54% increase since 2017.

It found that one in seven people experiencing destitution are in paid work, and families with children are increasingly likely to experience destitution.

The study found inadequate benefit levels and debt deductions are identified as key drivers of destitution. The JRF is calling for the Government to make the £20 uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits permanent, and put an end to unaffordable debt repayments from benefits.

Helen Barnard, director of JRF, said: 'It is appalling that so many people are going through this distressing and degrading experience, and we should not tolerate it. No one in our society should be unable to afford to eat or keep clean and sheltered. We can and must do more.

'The pandemic has shown just how much we want to look out for each other in difficult times, but the sobering truth is that even before COVID-19 hit, the number of people in destitution was rising sharply.

'Our social security system should act as an anchor to hold us steady when we’re pulled down by powerful currents like job loss, illness or relationship breakdown. But right now, our system is not doing enough to protect people from destitution.'

Photo: HASPhotos / Shutterstock.com

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