The 10th October 2012,
Each year, the New Policy Institute monitors poverty and social exclusion in the UK. Thanks to that, they were able to make a great estimation of the impacts of the crisis of 2008 and 2009 on poverty in the UK. In order to implement their survey, they analysed several predefined indicators: income, the unemployment rate, education, health, and fear of crime. Statistics on these indicators are computed every year which allowed them to establish a good follow up of the evolution of poverty.
Let’s start by analyzing the number of people who are considered low income earners, that is, the people that earn less that 60% of the median income of the UK. Actually, if we compare to the situation at the beginning of the century, there are less people living in poverty. Unfortunately, the New Policy Institute also notices that since 2005, the situation has gone worst. Indeed from 2005 until 2010 the number of low-income households has increased. Therefore, at the end of 2009, 13.1 million people were living in poverty in the UK.
As far as the unemployment is concerned, the figures are also not good at all. In 2009, 2.5 million people were unemployed: the highest level since 1995. However even if the crisis emphasized the growth, we can notice that the increase in unemployment started in 2004: four years before the crisis.
Now let’s have a look at the place of child poverty in the UK. As the number of low-income households has increased, so did the number of children living in low-income households. Nevertheless, the number of children living in a non working family has decreased continuously since 2004.
Regarding education, the figures are better. Indeed, the number of pupils not achieving 5 GCSEs (the equivalent of high school) has dropped by one third since 2004. Besides, we can also notice a decrease in children who do not have the basic knowledge in Mathematics and English at the age of 11.
Besides, as far as heath is concerned, we can also see some regular improvement, the number of premature deaths before age 65 has also reduced inthe last decades. The numbers of mental illnesses, infant mortality, babies born with low birth weight have also dropped.
People feel also more secure. Indeed, the percentage of people who feel worried about being victim of violent crime has gone from 17% to 14% since 2005. We observe the same thing for the people worried of being burgled.
To conclude, I think the crisis had a really bad effect on poverty. Indeed, the priorities of governments changed and poverty became a secondary issue. However, the report published by the New Policy Institute shows that some indicators started to get worst way before the recession. That is why I think that we should maybe look further in the past to find what problems are at the origin of the increase in poverty.