The amount of people experiencing destitution in the UK has increased by 61% since 2019, according to a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).
Destitution is defined as being unable to meet the most basic physical needs to stay warm, dry, clean and fed. This can be due to a lack of necessities or because people cannot afford to purchase those necessities.
In 2022, around 3.8 million people experienced destitution. This included around one million children, a huge increase (88%) from 2019. Almost two thirds of people had a disability or chronic health problem. While 72% of destitute people were in receipt of benefits.
JRF calls the rise in hardship ‘appalling’ and says that Universal Credit is clearly failing to protect people from destitution. They recommend an ‘Essentials Guarantee’, allowing everyone on Universal Credit a protected minimum amount to afford essentials and bills.
‘Across our country we are leaving families freezing in their homes or lacking basic necessities like food and clothing,’ says JRF chief executive Paul Kissack. ‘The government is not helpless to act: it is choosing not to. Turning the tide on destitution is an urgent moral mission, which speaks to our basic humanity as a country, and we need political leadership for that mission. That is why we are calling for clear proposals from all political parties to address this challenge with the urgency it demands.’
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