Email Address

[email protected]

Phone Number

+44 (0)207 118 7790

Follow Us :
the statistics

Understanding Low Income & Poverty in the UK

In the UK, low household income is defined broadly as earnings less than 60% of median household income on average.

In the UK, low household income is defined broadly as earnings less than 60% of median household income on average.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Poverty rates are highest amongst families with children. The poverty rate for people living in couple families without children is 11% (1.4 million people). This compares to 26% (5.9 million people) for people in couple families with children and 48% (2.4 million people) for those in lone-parent families.

Poverty can described as the inability to provide basic family necessities such as warmth, food, and clothing. It entails having to deal with financial insecurity and uncertainty every day of the week.

 It can lead to being excluded from society and possibly discriminated against because of your socioeconomic status. As the individuals suffer from the ongoing stress it causes, it can lead to problems that hinder people from fully participating in society.

0 %

children aged four & under are in poverty

0 %

of those in poverty are in “persistent poverty”

£ 0

Median Income in the UK

0 million

Living in poverty in the UK

The nature of poverty

When a working person’s income, after housing costs, is less than 60% of the national average, they don’t earn enough to meet the cost of living – they are living in poverty*. In the UK, this already affected one in eight workers before the current cost of living crisis emerged.

A combination of factors can make it difficult for many working people to escape poverty:

  • Low income, with pay rises failing to keep up with the rising cost of living.
  • Poor job quality and employment practices leading to financial instability, and trapping people in low-paid roles.
  • A lack of genuine, two-sided flexible working practices that enable people to fit their work around their caring responsibilities and health needs.
  • Underemployment (where people work insufficient hours to cover their cost of living).
  • Financial hardship caused by unforeseen setbacks in personal circumstances, such as relationship breakdown, bereavement or illness.
  • The ‘poverty premium’ which traps those on lower incomes in a cycle where they pay more for goods and services
  • Three in ten people (31%) in poverty are in deep poverty and, of these, just over half (55%) are in persistent poverty.
  • Within the 14.4 million people in poverty in the UK:
    • 2.4 million people are in deep and persistent poverty.
    • 1.9 million people are in deep poverty (non-persistent).
    • 4.7 million people are less than 50% below the poverty line and in persistent poverty.
    •  5.1 million people are less than 50% below the poverty line and in poverty (non-persistent)
  • Poverty rates vary significantly between English regions. They are highest in London (29%), North East (26%), Yorkshire and Humber (24%) and the West Midlands (24%). Regions with the lowest rates are the South West, South East, and East of England (18%) and the East Midlands (19%).

Poverty rates in London

Poverty rates in North East

Poverty rates in Yorkshire and Humber 


The term absolute poverty is used to refer to the poverty conditions where an individual cannot meet the most basic commodities to sustain life and other normal activities

Refers to the poverty conditions where the level of income is considerably lower than the median level of income within a country

The official UK relative poverty line is household disposable income (adjusted for household size) of less than 60% of median income.

defined as being in poverty in the current year and at least two of the three preceding years.

 7.1 million people (11% of the population) in the UK live in persistent poverty, meaning that they are in poverty today and were also in poverty for at least two of the last three years

Individuals are said to be in relative low income if they live in a household with an income that
is low relative to other households, as determined by whether the income is below 60 per cent
of median income (the income earned by the household in the middle of the distribution in a
given year). This can be determined before or after housing costs.

Individuals are said to be in absolute low income if they live in a household with an income
that is below a level that was the relative low income threshold in 2010/11 adjusted for inflation.
This can be determined before or after housing costs.

Food Security

Although poverty is often linked to struggling to afford food, data collected by the government shows that these can be two distinct issues. Putting enough food on the table is a real struggle for many families, but not everyone classed as living in poverty also suffers from food insecurity.

“In early 2020–just before our country went into lockdown–there were 4.3 million children growing up in poverty. Three children in every ten growing up in families that were struggling to pay the bills or put food on the table.”


What do we know about food poverty?

A person or household is considered to be in food poverty, more often known as food insecurity, when they cannot “consistently afford and access sufficient healthy and nutritious food”, by one government definition, or if they do not have “access at all times to enough food that is both sufficiently varied and culturally appropriate to sustain an active and healthy life”, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

A more recent survey of the whole UK by the Food Foundation, conducted in April 2022, found that about 14% of households experienced food insecurity in the past month, with about 7.3 million adults living in these households. This represents a substantial recent rise.

The same survey found that about 17% of households with children reported food insecurity—amounting to about “2.6 million children aged under 18 who live in households that do not have access to a healthy and affordable diet”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all these children themselves went hungry.

Contact Info


Sign Up for up to date news and information


True Care Foundation is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales (company number 06794765). Our England and Wales charity number is 1127963. Our registered office is 9 Spring Villa Park, Spring Villa Road, Edgware, Middlesex, England, HA8 7EB.

Copyright © 2022. All rights reserved.