Posted on 28 March 2013
Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, it is a major collaboration between a group of UK universities including York and is the largest and most authoritative study of poverty and deprivation ever conducted in the UK.
The report is the subject of a special edition of Tonight titled Breadline Britain which is broadcast on ITV at 7.30pm on 28 March.
The findings of this study are shocking, indicating a level of poverty and deprivation which should be a wake-up call to policymakers and the public at large
Professor Jonathan Bradshaw
The PSE approach – now adopted by the UK Government and by a growing number of rich and developing countries - identifies people falling below a publicly-determined minimum standard of living. This method of measuring poverty was pioneered in 1983 and repeated in studies in 1990, 1999, 2002/03 and 2012. The project thus provides detailed, robust and definitive trends over 30 years.
Gill Main and Professor Jonathan Bradshaw, of the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at York, are members of the Poverty and Social Exclusion research team. They were responsible for developing the scale of child necessities and analysing the child poverty and deprivation results.
Professor Bradshaw says: “The findings of this study are shocking, indicating a level of poverty and deprivation which should be a wake-up call to policymakers and the public at large.”
Professor David Gordon, of the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research in Bristol and head of the project, says: “The results present a remarkably bleak portrait of life in the UK today and the shrinking opportunities faced by the bottom third of UK society. About one third of people in the UK suffer significant difficulties and about a quarter have an unacceptably low standard of living. Moreover, this bleak situation will get worse as benefit levels fall in real term, real wages continue to decline and living standards are further squeezed.”
Today 33 per cent of the UK population suffers from multiple deprivation by the standards. set by the public, compared with 14 per cent in 1983.
For a significant and growing proportion of the population, living conditions and opportunities have been going backwards. Housing and heating conditions, in particular, have deteriorated rapidly.
Increasing numbers of children also lack items considered essential for a stimulating environment and for social participation and development.
“Levels of deprivation today are worse in a number of vital areas – from basic housing to key social activities - than at any point in the past thirty years,” says Joanna Mack from The Open University, who, with Stewart Lansley, devised the study method in 1983. ‘These trends are a deeply shocking indictment of 30 years of economic and social policy and reflect a rapid growth in inequality. This has meant that, though the economy has doubled in size during this period, those at the bottom have been increasingly left behind.”
There is widespread public agreement on what constitutes a minimally acceptable diet. Over 90% agree that, for children, this means: three meals a day; fresh fruit and vegetables; and meat, fish or a vegetarian equivalent at least once a day.
Our research shows that, in households where children go without one or more of these basic food necessities:
“It is not as a result of negligence but due to a lack of money that so many children are going without adequate food,” comments Professor David Gordon.
In the study overall, more than one in four adults (28 per cent) have skimped on their own food in the past year so that others in the household may eat.
Significant proportions of the population find it difficult to cope on their current incomes:
Overall, people feel poorer: