Britain’s record on tackling poverty has reached a turning point and is at risk of unravelling, following the first sustained rises in child and pensioner poverty for two decades, a major report has warned.
Nearly 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners are now living in poverty than five years ago, during which time there have been continued increases in poverty across both age groups – prompting experts to warn that hard-fought progress towards tackling destitution is “in peril”.
The report, by the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), shows that a total of 14 million people in the UK currently live in poverty – more than one in five of the population. While poverty levels fell in the years to 2011-12, changes to welfare policy – especially since the 2015 Budget – have seen the numbers creep up again.
The findings will fuel challenges currently facing Theresa May over failure to improve equality in the UK, after the entire board of her social mobility commission quit over the weekend at the lack of progress towards a “fairer Britain”.
Alan Milburn, the Government’s social mobility tsar, who has chaired the commission since 2012, announced on his resignation after months of “indecision, dysfunctionality and lack of leadership”, adding there was “little hope” of Ms May’s administration delivering a more equal society.
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