London: Over one million UK families comprising 2.4 million people experienced destitution in 2019, but the number is expected to double, as the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the United Kingdom’s economy into its deepest recession since recording began, a study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) revealed on Wednesday.
“This study, the third in the Destitution in the UK series, reveals that even before the COVID-19 outbreak destitution was rapidly growing in scale and intensity. Since 2017 many more households, including families with children, have been pushed to the brink,” the JRF’s research said.
The foundation defines destitution as when a household cannot afford two or more of the essentials we all need to live, like shelter, food, heating and clothing.
According to the report, of the 2.4 million people that experienced destitution at any point during 2019, around 550,000 were children. It also found that one in five destitute people are homeless or suffer from drug and alcohol problems, while some 54 per cent have a chronic health problem or disability.
“I’m appalled, I’m ashamed and I’m angry. Nearly 2.5 million people experienced destitution in 2019. That’s more than a 50 per cent increase since 2017. More than half a million children are growing up with the experience of destitution,” JRF director Helen Barnard said in a video published on Twitter in which she called for improving social security, building more social homes and creating better paid, more secure jobs.
The study said although destitution has risen sharply across the UK, the highest levels are in northern cities and towns.