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Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion 2016

I am pleased to introduce this year’s State of the Nation report on poverty in the UK. This long series of annual reports has provided an essential barometer to allow
understanding of the changing face of poverty, and therefore the challenge and opportunities facing all of us who are seeking to solve it.

This task has never been more important. The vote on 23 June made it clear that despite record levels of employment, there are deep levels of disaffection among those who feel left out of the success enjoyed in some parts of the country. We have made real progress as a country. Fewer children live in workless households, old age is no longer automatically associated with a risk of poverty and we have largely broken the link between housing squalor and poverty.

But there are risks ahead. This report shows:

  • an alarming concentration of poverty among families with a disabled member; disability in the UK is closely associated with poverty
  • real risks of poverty for the growing number of people housed in the private rented sector, who face high rents, insecurity and, frequently, poor quality housing
  • a continuing rise in poverty among those who are in work.

Earlier this year JRF published our Strategy to Solve UK Poverty. This strategy set out a five-point plan to:

  • boost income and reduce costs
  • deliver an effective benefits system
  • improve education and raise skills
  • strengthen families and communities
  • promote long-term economic growth that can benefit everyone.

The strategy demonstrated the ways in which poverty in the UK is threatening our longer-term prosperity, and argued that it is the responsibility of all of us – individuals and families, communities, business and governments, at every level – to work together to solve poverty in the UK. It set some achievable goals for a UK in which:

  • no one is ever destitute
  • fewer than one in ten of the population are in poverty at any one time
  • no one is in poverty for more than two years.

The essential data in this report provides a clearsighted, unambiguous picture of poverty in the UK this year. It focuses our attention on the reality of life for people in poverty, making it clear that while the face of poverty has changed, its impact, and its costs, and the waste of human potential, is a reality to which we must respond. With clear information, and with a strategy for action, we have never been in a better positon to start the long, sustained programme of work to solve UK poverty.