UK Poverty 2020/21.Date Posted: 21 January 2021
UK Poverty 2020/2021: Why decisive action from central government matters now more than ever for our low-income London families.
“While we have all been in the same storm, we haven’t all been in the same boat.”- JRF
Reading the latest annual report from Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) we see once again that London has the worst poverty rate within England. Prior to the pandemic low-income families in London were already struggling to make ends meet due to an unfair social security system that failed to protect them from the impact of the high costs of living in London.
This report incorporates pre-pandemic poverty data that reflects the world as we once knew it. It shows that low-income families who were already gripped by the clutches of poverty are the ones being further economically affected by COVID-19.
The JRF polling in May last year showed most low-income families on Universal Credit or working tax credits were forced to go without essentials, falling behind with rent payments and pushed further into debt as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It’s a damning indictment of our society that those with the least have suffered the most over the past decade and are now being hit hardest once again by the pandemic.”
-Helen Barnard, JRF
The report highlights groups that were disproportionately affected; lone parents, who were more likely to be women, low paid and part-time workers, including BAME workers, as well as private and social renters.
All affected were likely employed in the hardest hit sectors (retail, food, accommodation, hospitality) as these jobs did not afford them the benefit of working from home.
For lone parents it was sadly inevitable then, that the lockdown restrictions would have hit them hardest not only because of the sector they work in, but also because of the sudden disruption to their childcare arrangements.
“The government continues to leave decisions on the support available to the worst off in our society to the last minute. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
It’s clear that central government must act now to alleviate the pressure that low-income families in London face on a daily basis to simply survive. Proactivity on their part is needed to address this unacceptable level of poverty. The report highlights the following solutions:
- As many people as possible need to be in good jobs. Retraining opportunities should be made available to diversify employability for those who have lost their jobs.
- Earnings for low income working families need to be improved.
- The Universal Credit uplift needs to be made permanent.
- The benefit system needs to be viewed as a vital public service, rooted in the shared understanding that everyone is entitled to have a decent standard of living.
- Low-cost housing provision needs to be increased and the gap between LHA and housing rent needs to be revised for low-income families.
We will continue to push for change in these areas with our network of members, highlighting these very pressing issues affecting the lowest income Londoners – particularly ahead of the budget in March. Join us by talking to your MP and letting them know why you want to see action on child poverty. Click here for all the information you need to take part.