Almost four million people, including more than a million children, in Britain experienced the most extreme form of poverty last year, according to a recent study published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), a local social change organization.
According to the charity, the number of Britons experiencing ‘destitution’ surged 61% between 2019 and 2022, with 3.8 million people going through these levels of poverty.
‘Destitution’ is defined as the inability to meet basic physical needs, like staying fed, warm, clean and dry either due to lack of essentials – such as clothing, heating, shelter and food – or because an income is so low that people cannot afford to buy these items.
Household income dropped below a minimum level after housing costs, ranging from £95 ($115) a week for a single adult to £205 ($249) a week for a couple with two children. Over half of destitute households had a weekly income of less than £85 after housing costs, the study concluded, adding that a quarter reported no income at all.
The number of ‘destitute’ children has nearly tripled since 2017, marking a dramatic increase by 186%.
Adults from across the country reported a frequent inability to have more than one meal a day, saying that they are often forced to go without to ensure their kids could eat. Around two-thirds of respondents (61%) said they had gone hungry in the past month, having relied on food banks or relatives for groceries.
Over half of destitute adults (51%) regularly went without hygiene and cleaning products, along with toiletries like shampoo and toothpaste, reporting heavy reliance on food banks for these items.
Most of the polled adults were not able to afford clothing and footwear, claiming they only purchased new clothes that were necessary, such as school uniforms and trainers for their children.
Retail Sales Dropped In UK In September
Retail sales in the UK dropped in September as the high cost of living continues to pressure households’ budgets, according to the latest sales-monitor report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG published this week.
The survey said that UK retailers reported weak sales last month as cash-strapped consumers avoided big-ticket spending and delayed winter clothing purchases due to unseasonably warm weather.
Although the amount of money Britons spent while shopping rose by 2.7% year-on-year in September, expenditures were down by 4.1% compared to August, figures showed.
“Big-ticket items such as furniture and electronics performed poorly as consumers limited spending in the face of higher housing, rental, and fuel costs,” said Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC. “The Indian summer also meant sales of autumn clothing, knitwear, and coats have yet to materialize.”
September marked the second weakest month of the year so far and was well below the inflation rate, indicating the volume of goods sold declined.
Sluggish retail sales have added to concerns over year-end profits, as soaring interest rates squeeze household incomes while the number of jobless is rising in the UK. The downturn in sales comes ahead of the so-called “golden quarter,” the run-up to Christmas when shop owners can make the most of their annual yields.
“The fight for Christmas shoppers will be fierce this year, with promotions likely to be earlier and abundant in a bid to loosen tight household purse strings,” said Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG.
“Consumers will continue to seek out good deals, with price driving purchasing decisions. This is likely to be one of the most important golden quarters that we have seen in years.”
The cost of living crisis in the UK has sent consumption plummeting, while fears of a recession in the country are mounting as successive interest-rate hikes are taking their toll.
The Purchasing Managers Index, a measure reflecting overall economic health, indicated a contraction in August and September, and unemployment has been climbing for three straight months.