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Image © Joseph Rowntree Foundation
UK Poverty 2020/21 The leading independent report
Before coronavirus, an unacceptable 14.5 million people in the UK were caught up in poverty, equating to more than one in five people. Child poverty and in-work poverty had been on the rise for several years and some groups were disproportionately likely to be pulled into poverty. Many of those groups already struggling most to stay afloat have also borne the brunt of the economic and health impacts of COVID-19. These include:
- part-time workers, low-paid workers and sectors where there are much higher rates of in-work poverty, such as accommodation and food services
- Black, Asian and minority ethnic households
- lone parents – mostly women, many of whom work in hard-hit sectors – who are more reliant on local jobs, and are more likely to have struggled with childcare during lockdown
- private renters, who have higher housing costs, and social renters, who tend to have lower incomes, both leading to higher poverty rates. Renters in work are also more likely to be in a sector more affected by coronavirus
- areas of the UK where there were already higher levels of unemployment, poverty and deprivation.
We cannot be sure what happened to overall poverty levels in the first phase of the coronavirus outbreak, when the furlough scheme and temporary benefit uplift were both in place. However, it is clear that poverty will increase if this government support is removed from April 2021, as we face much higher unemployment than pre-coronavirus, as well as the continuing uncertain impact of the end of the Brexit transition period.