19 Jun 2014

Latest figures from UK’s largest poverty survey reveals rising deprivation

A report into poverty and social exclusion in the UK has found that levels of deprivation and financial difficulties in the country are rising despite economic growth. The UK’s largest survey of poverty and social exclusion has found that the percentage of households which fall below society’s minimum standard of living has increased from 14 per cent to 33 per cent over the last 30 years.

Released today, the latest results from the Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK (PSE) project, which is produced in collaboration with The Open University (OU), also indicate that full-time work is not always sufficient to escape from poverty and researchers involved in the project have called on the Government to take action.

Other key results from the survey include:
• almost 18 million people cannot afford adequate housing conditions;
• 12 million people are too poor to engage in common social activities;
• one in three people cannot afford to heat their homes adequately in the winter
• four million children and adults aren’t properly fed

Joanna Mack, Learning and Teaching Producer at the OU developed the method underlying this research in 1983 and is one of the project’s lead investigators. Alongside other OU colleagues, The Open University developed the resource website which accompanies it - She said: “Our survey has reported ever increasing levels of deprivation across several areas of basic needs in the UK such as housing, heating and food returning to levels of deprivation seen when this work first began in 1983. This research shows just how widespread these problems are and that despite people being in full-time work many still cannot afford the basic amenities, which the public at large think should be part of a minimum standard. Now more than ever it is important for the Government to rethink the way that poverty is tackled to ensure that these issues do not continue to increase in the future.”

To read the full press release issued by the PSE please visit:

Joanna Mack will join other experts involved in the project to discuss the survey’s findings and how best to tackle the problems highlighted at the 3rd Peter Townsend Memorial Conference which begins in London on 19 June 2014.


Notes to editors

• The Open University’s involvement with PSE: Joanna Mack, Learning and Teaching producer at the OU, devised the new way of measuring poverty used in the PSE project in 1983, together with Stewart Lansley, senior project officer at the OU. Joanna was the Principal Investigator on the 1983 and 1990 research studies and she is one of the lead investigators for the current research. The OU developed The Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK website, which is an integral part of the overall project and which provides a major resource on poverty and social exclusion, used extensively.
• The PSE: UK research was financed by the Economic and Social Research Council. It is a major collaboration between the University of Bristol, Heriot-Watt University, The Open University, Queen's University Belfast, University of Glasgow, University of Birmingham, University of Oxford, and the University of York working with the NatCen and NISRA.

• The PSE study: The study is based on two surveys conducted in 2012. The ‘Necessities of Life’ survey was carried out between May and June 2012 and is based on a sample of 1,447 adults aged 16 or over in the Britain and 1,015 in Northern Ireland. The living standards survey interviewed 5,193 households (4,205 in Britain and 988 in Northern Ireland) comprising 12,097 people (9,786 in Britain and 2,311 in Northern Ireland). For further information please visit:
• The full living standards questionnaire can be downloaded from the PSE website:
• The 3rd Peter Townsend Memorial Conference takes place at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL on 19 and 20 June. Media welcome to attend.

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