UK welfare thinktank the Resolution Foundation warned that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s failure to announce new measures to support low-income families through the cost of living crisis during his Spring Statement it means that millions of people in Britain will be pushed into absolute poverty.
“The decision not to target support to those most affected by rising prices will leave low- and middle-income households painfully exposed, with 1.3 million people, including half a million children, falling below the threshold. out of poverty next year,” he warned. Torsten Bell, executive director of the foundation.
While Mr Sunak emphasized tax cuts in his speech, raising the threshold for National Insurance Contributions by £3,000 and promising to remove a penny from income tax before the next general election, only one in eight workers will see their tax bills. reduced by 2025.
Meanwhile, the average working family will lose £1,100, a 4 per cent drop in income next financial year, according to analysis by the Resolution Foundation.
The outlook is even bleaker for the poorest quarter of households, who will see 6 percent of their income disappear from rising costs and taxes.
But what exactly does it mean to be “below the poverty line” and how is it measured?
The United Nations World Summit for Economic Development defined absolute poverty in 1995 in universal terms as “a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, clean water, sanitation, health, housing, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services.”
However, what constitutes “basic human needs” in the standard of living may differ from country to country.
“Poverty means not being able to heat your home, pay rent or buy essentials for your children,” states the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), giving a more UK-focused interpretation.
“It means waking up every day facing insecurity, uncertainty and impossible decisions about money. It means facing marginalization, and even discrimination, because of your financial circumstances.”
The JRF says there is no single measure to define what constitutes poverty in Britain, but it outlines three levels of adversity: those whose incomes are just below the minimum standard income, allowing them to survive while struggling with unforeseen costs; those who simply do not have enough income to make ends meet; and those who have become totally destitute, unable to buy food and afford the basic conditions required to stay warm, dry and safe.
Meanwhile, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) defines the poverty line as 60 percent of median household income, saying 14 million people in Britain, or 22 percent of the population, are already below that level today, citing the government’s own households. Income report below average.
CPAG says 100,000 British children a day don’t have a warm coat or three full meals a day, 400,000 go without fresh fruit or vegetables every day and 3.2 million don’t get a week’s holiday every year.
Reliance on food banks can be expected to increase if the Resolution Foundation’s dire predictions come to pass and Iceland’s managing director, Richard Walker, issued a heartbreaking warning earlier this week when he told BBC Radio 4 Today programs that even they might not be able to help the most vulnerable in light of the skyrocketing cost of household energy bills.
“I think the cost-of-living crisis is the biggest domestic issue we face as a country and it’s incredibly concerning,” he said. “We’re hearing about some food bank patrons turning down potatoes and root vegetables because they can’t afford the energy to boil them.”