More than one third of all children in the UK are living in poverty. According to 2020 official statistics 14.4 million people in the UK were living in families in poverty, with 4.5 million of them in deep poverty. It was optimistically estimated that by 2023 an additional 3 million people would be living in poverty. But as 2022 tailspins out of control we can see that was a quaint underestimate. Poverty is moving into the mainstream now, but still one of the greatest risk factors for living in poverty is being a child. Also being disabled – that increases the risk for you and everyone in your household. When future historians write about us, what will they say? Will they wonder why we tolerated a system that particularly selected children and disabled people for punishment?
Perhaps it’s helpful that our ‘cost of living crisis’ is giving more people a sense of how easily poverty can slither into your household. People in poverty have not done something special to bring it upon themselves. It sounds obvious, but the main cause of poverty is insufficient income. Social security rates are set at a level that pushes people into debt. Two thirds of all people in poverty are living in a family where someone is working, but wages are too low to support household costs. Poverty does not spur people on; instead, it can rob them of opportunity and self-belief. Everything becomes more difficult when you can’t afford simple things like the bus fare, a smart outfit, data on your phone. The stress of poverty can infect the mind with anxiety and many people will become less confident, more easily overwhelmed. It can become difficult not to bury things that you can’t bear to look at, you don’t open the letters, and things start to spiral. Relationships often suffer and isolation can set in, along with shame. None of this is helped by systems that should support people but instead inflict blame, punishing people and gaslighting them, telling them they should be able to do things that they can’t do.
This is Challenge Poverty Week. In the sixth richest nation on the planet, poverty does not exist due to human fallibility or terrible bad luck. Poverty is not a disease that has come out of nowhere. In the sixth richest nation on the planet, poverty can only exist by design. In Challenge Poverty Week, let’s challenge the system that designs poverty into people’s lives.
Read more about the experience of poverty in this report from IFAN and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Mental Health Report – Final 0303.pdf (strikinglycdn.com)
Write to your MP
We’ve written a template letter that you can use to urge your MP to take action. Click the link for more info:
Volunteer with us
We are trying to support people through the crisis and if you can offer a few hours each week, we would appreciate that act of solidarity.
Make a donation
We believe in a Cash First approach, but while that option is not on the table we provide the best support we can whilst relying on precarious grant funding. Donate to help us continue and improve our work.
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