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Is there such a thing as "severe poverty" in the UK?

306 replies

Niceguy2 · 25/03/2011 23:45

I'm being serious. I'm not talking about poor. Obviously there are plenty of people who either are poor or think they are. But I mean severe poverty.

I just read the Save the Children child poverty report which claims that 1.6million children live in severe poverty. And they define "severe poverty" as a family of 1 child who has an income of less than £7000 (or 2 kids with income < £12k).

But a quick tot up of benefits tells me that a family with 1 child would get the following each year:

Income Support £3412
Tax Credits £2850
Child Benefit £1055
Total 7317

And that's before you take into account housing benefit, council tax, free school dinners etc etc. So to me, no UK family should fall into that definition.

Then the report goes on to say they say someone is living in poverty if basic necessities are not met such as not "having enough shoes", not being able to pay for "home contents insurance" or children missing out on "having friends round" or "school trips".

When I hear "poverty" I think of children living in the streets with no food, not being unable to go on a school trip!

So given all that, is there such a thing as severe poverty in the UK? Or is it as I suspect that some families just can't manage their money?

I'm not trying to argue that £7k is a lot of money. I'm just saying that if that's the definition and the state gives you more, then surely there isn't such a thing?

OP posts:
usualsuspect · 25/03/2011 23:48

Everybody has loadsa money

plasma tvs ,play stations ,swimming pools

just tick the box

letsgetloud · 25/03/2011 23:56

"When I hear "poverty" I think of children living in the streets with no food, not being unable to go on a school trip!"

You are describing two different forms of poverty. One is relative poverty and the other relative poverty.

letsgetloud · 25/03/2011 23:57

Sorry one is relative poverty and the other absolute poverty. Both are still poverty.

southeastastra · 25/03/2011 23:57

blimey niceguy

usualsuspect · 25/03/2011 23:58

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Chaotica · 26/03/2011 00:01

Add another child to the amounts above and you are on less than 12K. Add another one and... It quickly becomes severe poverty. (Bearing in mind the first child gets more Child benefit.)

edam · 26/03/2011 00:02

'the state gives you more'

Only once you've filled out all the right forms. Which are incredibly complicated. And only if you fit the right boxes. Gets far more difficult if you don't have a regular address, for instance. Which not all families have. And that's just one example.

I think 'not having enough shoes' IS poverty. If a parent can't buy their child new shoes when their feet grow, if the child has holes in their shoes and the parent can't afford a repair. Of if the parent puts up with holes in THEIR shoes because their priority is finding shoes for their child. Try walking to work in a minimum wage job with holes in your shoes, getting your feet wet, and see how you feel.

edam · 26/03/2011 00:04

Also, average wage in this country is about £25k, isn't it? Clearly 7k is 1/4 of that. So obviously IS poverty.

edam · 26/03/2011 00:05

(meant to say under a quarter)

HanBanan · 26/03/2011 00:20

I can understand Niceguy's confusion. I think you can have severe poverty in the Uk if despite the benefits and income you have some additional dysfunction or debt or other strain within the family that means some of the low income is spent on other things than the usual 'basics'

So, for example you have an alcoholic parent who spends said income on booze and so the household bills don't get paid and said child/children don't have adequate funds for clothes etc. This happened to me so I am not being anti-poor. This is a genuine problem for some families.

Or the family on a low income might have borrowed some cash to afford a much needed holiday (which income support etc will not cover as it will only cover the basics ie gas, water rates, elec, petrol, rent, food shop, a little for clothes) and then had to borrow from a dodgy loanster and have to pay back high amounts of repayments on threat of violence or baillif action and therefore this takes a chunk out of their low income and the basics cannot be met.

Or perhaps the parent/s suffer from an illness physically or mentally which means they have additional needs that take moneey out of the pot needed for the basics.

Or a hundred and one other reasons why people's low incomes are drained quite beyond their control and the children end up suffering as a result.

HappyMummyOfOne · 26/03/2011 14:14

Poverty is having no roof over your head, no heat and no food. I would imagine there are very very few children living on the streets with their parents.

"Income Support £3412
Tax Credits £2850
Child Benefit £1055
Total 7317"

Its not just that they get though, HB alone can be worth thousands, FSM, free activities, free laptops, not paying for school activities or trips, free dental/prescriptions. If you add it all up its worth a lot more than many people get for working a full week.

Society only has itself to blame, we've allowed people to have children without even thinking of how they will support them and thousands are now working the bare min since tax credits came in. Perhaps if the new government continue with reforms, benefits will go back to being a short term safety net after a change in circumstances rather than a way of life.

meditrina · 26/03/2011 14:25

I dislike this term "severe poverty". It's bad enough, without adding more terms, that there is so much similarity between the terms absolute poverty (which does not exist in UK, for which we can all be thankful) and relative poverty (which is probably what is meant here).

peeriebear · 26/03/2011 14:35

DH grew up being the "povvo" at his school because his mum, though working, spent all her money on booze. His school shoes were his only shoes, his clothes were second hand/old/scruffy and he was bullied and ridiculed for never having anything. Relative poverty I'm sure, but damaging and horrible nonetheless.

maypole1 · 26/03/2011 18:25

Well said happymumofnone roll on April if had my way everyone would of been sent a letter informing all scroungers that all benefit is being stopped and only those who are severely disbled or have mental health issues and are on medication will be allowed to re apply.

and the only benefits you can claim is dla , pension and working tax credit


I believe the lib dems have made the tories hold back next time I will be voting torie not lib dems we need and axe taken to the benefits not a pocket knife I believe this area is were the biggest cuts should be 50% is about right to many people will to lay on their backs to have children but not willing to brake their back to pay for them

HHLimbo · 26/03/2011 22:04

Out of that list, only £4400 a year in cash goes to the parent. That makes 366 a month, less than £85 a week to pay all the living costs of one adult and one child.

The majority, if not all, will go on paying all bills and food. Many people spend more than that just on their food bill so you can imagine how little it is for two people.
They would have to severely ration their heating in the winter or go without, any clothes will have to be saved up for or gone without, toys, games, any extras like activities again would have to be free or gone without. Certainly school trips would be out of reach.

Its a very sad way to bring up a child and I would not wish it on anyone.

BaroqueAroundTheClock · 26/03/2011 22:23

"we've allowed people to have children without even thinking of how they will support them "

Of course all those people who have lost their jobs, or whose marriages have broken down only had children because they knew the state would support them at some unknown about point in time in the future Hmm.

It is of course extremely easy to end up in debt while on benefits, they don't take account of the fact that your child will fall badly in the playground and rip the top of their brand new shoes off - requiring more to be bought, or that your cooker with break and need repairing, or that you don't qualify for housing benefit (beause before going onto benefits you were doing well and had bought a house) and as such are living in your own home, unable to sell it, and repair needs to be done urgently.

Some reports in the last year have estimated that £16 billion in benefits are going unclaimed, I'm not suprised, first of all you need to navigate the system, then you have to make sure you can tick all the right boxes.

Then there's things like the tax credits. While I do know of plenty of cases where someones income has dropped significantly and HRMC have used the current years expected income -it doesn't always happen.They wouldn't for exH and I when we got back together just after the start of the new tax year. He had been in a well paid job (£30k pa), but had lost the job (was fired as he didn't have a TV licence - don't ask Grin), They worked out our TC's for that year based on his earnings of the previous year (wasn't the full year so irrc it was about £23k). Our "income" on benefits was nothing near that and the difference in tax credits was quite substantial.

TheSecondComing · 26/03/2011 22:55

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 26/03/2011 23:07

TSC - with regards to your last line - that's an old tune Wink - I remember myself and others singing that line many many times in the past Grin

TheSecondComing · 26/03/2011 23:19

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 26/03/2011 23:20

TSC - I actually meant towards that particular poster Grin

LegoStuckinMyhoover · 26/03/2011 23:24

niceguy, I have worked in one of the poorest wards in the country. I was amazed at how kids live in this area of London. If you think poverty doesnt exist, please come and visit and I will show you how wrong you are. get a grip.

usualsuspect · 26/03/2011 23:25

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 26/03/2011 23:29

"Well said happymumofnone roll on April if had my way everyone would of been sent a letter informing all scroungers that all benefit is being stopped and only those who are severely disbled or have mental health issues and are on medication will be allowed to re apply."


I have to say I'm intrigued by this post though.............so people with MH issues who are on medication can't work? Likewise those with disabilities? I mean, I'm no fant of Stephen Hawking (wouldn't be really - am a Chrsitian Grin) - but he seems to be doing a pretty good job of working with a disablity, and I've known a lot of people on medication for MH issues who are working. I worked on AD's, exH is now working - but he's also still taking his Abilify (only as a precaution for all that shit happening again - but still under the CMHT too).

BaroqueAroundTheClock · 26/03/2011 23:32

I wonder where all the jobs woul come from too, and the childcare, and - ouch - are the government ready for the hit they'd take financially for all those people who don't fit the "severaly disabled or with mental health issues" criteria started claiming their tax credits.

Of course - most of them would STILL be entitled to housing benefit and perhaps some council tax benefit as well - there aren't enough higher paying jobs to make sure they don't still need support with that.

Oh - what's that? You say only people who don't work can claim benefits.............damn my mistake............still it would explain the reason for 1.6 million children living in severe poverty....................

TheSecondComing · 26/03/2011 23:39

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