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Poverty crisis

Posted by
15 Feb 2017

poverty-crisisWith the winter weather now upon us, it is time to turn the heating up to keep us warm in our homes. However attention is drawn to more than two million people in the UK who struggle financially and therefore have to cut back on heating to save money. 

In recent months the “big six” energy companies have met in Westminster to discuss how to tackle this ongoing issue. It is hoped that the meeting between these companies will see more help become available for those who are struggling.

The two million people affected by fuel poverty include many vulnerable groups, from those in low income households to the elderly. One in five pensioners are now cutting back on living essentials, including heating due to the increased cost of living. Micheala Britner, Community Service Team Leader from STAR Housing said “It is at this time of the year that the elderly are at their most vulnerable. Many struggle throughout the year, so the increase cost of heating through the winter months is something that if difficult to manage. Unfortunately the result of which can lead to those with underlying health issues suffering further”

However this is not just a concern for the elderly.

Currently there are approximately three million children living in poverty within the UK, 63 percent of which live within a household where a family member works. That amounts to 28 percent of children living within the UK.

This is a shocking statistic and one that the government has promised to tackle.

The government’s Autumn Statement pledged to increase the national living wage from £7.20 to £7.50 from April 2017 which will mean an average increase of £500 per year to someone working full-time.

However is this enough? Due to the increased cost of living is this still too low to be able to afford a decent standard of living? Many families find themselves having to make tough decisions between how they spend their money. This coupled with high rent costs are causing more and more people into social housing or homelessness. 

Mother of three and candidate, Deborah Hall, understands these struggles. She says “Currently me and my family live in private rented accommodation which is a real struggle because my wage is around minimum living wage. I currently have to work two jobs to just to be able to pay the rent and my bills each month.” She said “The increase in the minimum wage will help, but not significantly”. 

This along with future benefit cuts will only see further families become classed as living in poverty. Growing up in poverty massively risks a child’s wellbeing and outlook for the future; they are more likely to obtain below average results from school and the likelihood that they will live in poverty as an adult increases considerably

So why have the government abolished the child poverty unit? This unit, which was jointly sponsored by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the Department of Education and HM Treasury, was designed to reduce poverty by 2020. But this unit has now been swallowed up by the DWP. The news of this development has left some worried that child poverty will become a lesser priority. It remains to be seen how the government plan to tackle poverty which they have promised to outline in a social justice paper.

There will be a great deal interest in the plans outlined in this paper, and how the government can justify disbanding this high profile unit when child poverty is still such a critical matter for the UK.

What are your thoughts? Is there a way in which the UK’s burgeoning poverty crisis can be resolved? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Alternatively, to discuss this even further, please email claire.harrison@sellickpartnership.co.uk or call 01332 542 580. 

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Tagged In: Current Affairs, Housing
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