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Poverty Gap Widens- Local Govt Association response:

by Jackie Porter on 25 January, 2024

The Local Government Association (LGA) has issued a response to a new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, that outlines how hardship and poverty are deepening across the UK.

As part of the foundation’s flagship UK Poverty report, it has been discovered that families require thousands of pounds to try and escape poverty. With the poverty gap growing wider, the report found that six million people who are currently the worst off would need their income to double in order to begin moving out of poverty.

Further findings within the report include:

  • 22% of people in the UK were living in poverty in 2021/22
  • 64% of working-age adults in poverty live in working households – increasing by 3% between 2020/21 and 2021/22.
  • Around three in every ten children are living in poverty.

Speaking about the report’s findings, Group Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Paul Kissack said:

“It has been almost twenty years and six Prime Ministers since the last prolonged period of falling poverty in the UK. Instead, over the last two decades, we have seen poverty deepen, with more and more families falling further and further below the poverty line.

“Little wonder that the visceral signs of hardship and destitution are all around us – from rocketing use of foodbanks to growing numbers of homeless families.

Jackie says,

‘This is a terrible indictment of our attitude to each other:

hardship is not a lifestyle choice: the gig economy, the high costs of food energy,

the need for a car in rural areas because bus services are dreadful,

rent for the home and childcare-all of these put pressure on families.

Each increase turns the screw of poverty and

it seems impossible to see any future that is safe and secure. We must do more to change this. ‘

Marland also issued a call for the government to extend the Household Support Fund, which is set to end in March this year:

“The Household Support Fund has enabled councils to significantly expand local support for people facing hardship. This includes providing grants for energy and food, supplying essential furniture and white goods, paying for energy efficiency improvements, funding food banks, and offering food vouchers for children during school holidays.

“Given demand for this support remains at record levels, councils are united in the view that the Household Support Fund, which is currently due to end in March, must be extended for at least another year.

“Ultimately, councils want to shift the focus from providing crisis support to investing in preventative services which improve residents’ financial resilience and life chances. However, without an urgent extension of the Household Support Fund, there is an immediate risk of more households falling into financial crisis, homelessness, and poverty.”

Alongside calls from local government, to extend the Household Support Fund, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation urged the government to address the ‘entrenched’ levels of poverty by ensuring that Universal Credit gives everyone a protected minimum amount to afford essentials such as food and bills, as well as expanding economic security so that the most vulnerable in society are protected.

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