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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:
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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 23:04

"but the point is, that was when we were kids, now I don't think anyone is as poor as that."


ermm - yes they are - that's the point!!!

Perhaps you could read the whole thread?? Some of the definitions (And links to global charities who acknowledge the presence of poverty in UK),

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silverfrog · 28/03/2011 23:08

the thing is, it wasn't that long ago.

it's not enough to say "that was when we were kids". I am talking about 15 years ago.

not that much ahs changed in 15 years.

yes, I was bloody lucky to have my scholarship. it probably saved me. without it I would have had no real food, and certainly no education. the rules were bent time and again by my headmistress, to ensure I had enough to eat, and at times somewhere warm and dry to stay. but it was pure charity.

I am not naive enough to think that there is not another family living in that house now. I haven't been back to my home town in a while, but last itme I was there, the same house on the same street, with the same bloody cracked and warped front door was there - I expect the floor just inside has been repaired somewhat, but the windows ahve not been replaced, and the roof looks just as shit. and it was occupied.

and that is one house.

there are thousands more.

and yet more people and families who don't even have that luxury.

I cannot compare my life to one of a person in Africa dealing with their poverty. the charity I was fortunate enough to receive was of a far higher quality than can ever be meted out in third world conditions.

but equally it cannot be said that thereis no extreme poverty in this country. my family would not have survived without charity, and everythign I have been able to do with my life is as a result of benefactors.

that is not somehting that should be said by anyone in a supposedly developed country.

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rasputin · 28/03/2011 23:09

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 23:12

oh fgs rasputin - read the thread, there are explanations about the benefits side of it (many don't qualify, or can't navigate the system), just for starters.

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rasputin · 28/03/2011 23:12

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 23:14

I worked in a school where there were extremely poor children there on bursaries in the 3rd world.........it's not a unique concept.

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rasputin · 28/03/2011 23:15

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 23:16

"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)." (From the OP)

Now - do you know who Save the Children are? They worked across the entire globe, working with those who live in the worst possible absolute poverty imaginable..............so

either they're lying, or you don't believe them.

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silverfrog · 28/03/2011 23:21

yes, rasputin.

so for 28 weeks of the year, I had a warm, dry buidlign to be in fo rthe day, and a hot meal at lunch time (other than weekends)

the rest of the time, I was in the severe poverty trap.

as Baroque says, it is hardly unknown for children globally to leave their slums and go to school - charities work the world over to achieve this.

I woudl not dream of suggestig that a child in Africa who is lucky enough to be enrolled in a charity funded school is hterefore not living in poverty - what a bizarre notion.

yes, my charity schooling took place in a listed building, not in a concrete schoolhouse.

and by dint of it being at a respected private school, not a VSO staffed charity, I had access to a whole raft of excellent highly qualified teachers.

but that did not change the fact that I grew up in severe poverty, the like fo which my peers at the time could not even begin to comprehend - a bit like you seem to be struggling to do so too.

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rasputin · 28/03/2011 23:21

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rasputin · 28/03/2011 23:22

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TheSecondComing · 28/03/2011 23:29

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 23:31

which one rasputin? 2 of the ones we visited had no running water in their house that is correct.

One of them (the aunt) coooked in a "mud hut" outside, as she had nothing to cook on inside. The children were bathed in a tin tub in the middle of the "garden" (dust), and the toilet was a glorified hole in the ground (being somewhat more urbanised she had made a seperate "mens" and "ladies" holes for them. The ladies had an improved seat of wood and rocks to form a "seat". The men just had to pee straight into the ground. They had a well that her (late) husband had dug. which is where the water for hand washing, and bathing came from.


The ones with the sewage and rubbish piled up (not just a little pile - think a lanfill tip running the entire length of the edge of the township) she had running water, but there was risk of cholera from it (it was in one of the areas - unsuprisingly given the outside conditions where there were cholera outbreaks a few years ago). She did at least have a semblance of "electricity" - but it was a slum house. I was truly truly shock by her existence, it was awful, and not at all dsimilar to what was seen on Comic Relief just a week or so ago.

Actually, many parts of the entire country didn't have safe drinking water from the tap.

We never drank a single drink from a tap unless it was tea (so boiled) in our 3 weeks out there. Even in the average, and above average households. The water that came from the taps wasn't considered safe enough.

I don't believe you are as poor as many of my (ex) relatives are. I truly don't.

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silverfrog · 28/03/2011 23:37

Baroque, when I was in Africa as a (wife of) Head of company, we couldn't drink the tap water - and that was in the comfort of our luxurious (I use the term sparingly!) diplomat's house.

we double boiled it, and filtered it. and then mostly used it for cooking or hot drinks, so boiled again.

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 23:38

I am (I should add) extremely skilled a peeing into a hole in the ground (usually concrete, though some like the aunt still just had the normal "pit" dug ut of the ground) Grin.

When we went out to the "village" with exFIL (who had done ok for himself so not at all in poverty) I did have to crack a smile though. Toilet was hole down the bottom of the garden so off I tootled (it was a bloody cold and windy day irrc)........and there in this most basic form of toilet was an improved toilet roll holder - complete with toilet roll Grin

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 23:41

oh yes - I remember the double boiling. yes, hot drinks, cooking, or (where there was no running hot water) bathing

We drank incredibly large amounts of fizzy drinks (as did dS1 and 2 who were 5 and 2 at the time) over that 3 weeks as bottled water was just so expensive - even for us foreigners Shock!

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silverfrog · 28/03/2011 23:45

yep, was much cheaper to get fanta or sprite than water.

I lived on sprite when I was pregnant with dd1 - had hyperemesis, so no food was staying down, and the fizz used to help me burp, thus staving off another bout of vomitting for ooh at least 20 mins or so Grin

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 23:48

cream soda - mmmm Grin

Fant and Sprite is different out there - I HATE UK orange Fanta.........bloody loved the stuff out there (still pick it up occasionaly when I find a SA shop on my travels Grin).

And of course you get your deposits back for returning the empties, we used to save them all up and then get loads back in one go.

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 23:51

god - I bet you had one of those really big (and only for the really rich) 2 storey houses, with pool, and electric gates and all didn't ya Grin

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 29/03/2011 00:01

ahhhhhhhh I'm feeling all nostalgic now - they've google have got the satelite images up for the area we lived in - I've just found our rickety little cottage we lived in Grin \link{http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=-17.78094,31.025546&num=1&t=h&sll=-17.783276,31.024955&sspn=0.010011,0.006295&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=-17.780863,31.026166&spn=0.001328,0.002642&z=19&iwloc=near\should hopefully be marked with a pointer} Grin - ahh despite it's sieve like roof it was quite a nice little place, though very small when I look back at the photos LOL

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Jogon · 29/03/2011 06:57

If parents drink or smoke the money away - that isn't poverty.
When people sign on are they not offered support to ensure they can fill in the forms adequately and get what they are due?


I do agree absolutely that money begets money and poverty begets poverty. When you are comfortable it is very easy to get people to lend you money even in current financial times so the reverse must also be true. It's a cycle for both ends of the spectrum but only a viscious one for some.

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gorionine · 29/03/2011 07:12

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

That is if you are eligible for them surely? When I was pregnant with DD1 I was very sick, constantly, and had to give up work. Dh was afull time student and working on WE only. We were not eligible to ANYTHING and lived for months on the £92 DH was earning on WE and a weekly rent of £80 for a horrible, horrible bedsit (for the 3 of us when Dd was born). that made a grand total of £12 a week to feed us, clean us and pay for DH commuting to uni and work.

The reasons we could not get anything? apparently being married is really not helping and working 16 hours a week was either to many hours or not enough.Confused

That was 12 years ago though, maybe it is much easier to claim for benefits now but somehow I doubt it.

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silverfrog · 29/03/2011 08:12

god yes - fanta is soooooo much nicer in Africa! and sprtie too - maybe that's partly why I can't stomach it now! - must be to do with the glass bottles with the lids that don't quite fit form having been used so many times Grin

we were in Kenya, not SA (but visited SA).

yes, 2 storey house. no pool, no electric gates. our first house had a pool, but then that house fell down, so we had to move. dh's driver/Mr Fixit was horrified when we said where we were moving to - too small, apparently, no pool, not a proper garden ("only" half an acre) - he said it didn't befit a Head of organisation.

But we loved that house - really nice.

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BaroqueAroundTheClock · 29/03/2011 08:17

lol @ the lids that don't quite fit..........now you mention it they didn't really fit did they Grin

That's, erm, rather unfortunate that your first house fell down Shock!

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ithaka · 29/03/2011 08:22

I think you only need to visit vertain areas of Glasgow to accept that poverty does exist. The average life expectency for a man in somewhere in Easterhouse is in the 50s, go a few miles to somewhere like bearsden (for example) and it is in the 70s. I think that is genuinely shocking.

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