UK Poverty 2017

Year of publication
Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF)

Comprehensive analysis of poverty trends and figures.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of the UK’s population lived in poverty 20 years ago. By 2004, this had fallen to one in five (20%) of the population. By 2015/16, the proportion had risen slightly to 22%.
However, the overall trend masks large variations in the fortunes of different groups.
Over the last 20 years the UK succeeded in reducing poverty significantly among those groups who had traditionally been at most risk – pensioners and some types of families with children.
Very little progress was made in reducing poverty among working-age households without children. In more recent years, poverty rates have started to rise again among both pensioners and families with children.


  • Poverty among children and pensioners has risen in the last few years. 30% of children and 16% of pensioners now live in poverty.
  • One in eight workers live in poverty – 3.7 million.
  • 47% of working-age adults on low incomes spend more than a third of their income (including Housing Benefit) on housing costs.
  • 30% of people living in a family with a disabled member live in poverty, compared to 19% of those who do not.
  • Nearly a quarter of adults in the poorest fifth of the population experience depression or anxiety.
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