Who lives in poverty?

All types of people live in poverty. Life changes such as unemployment, illness or family separation can happen to us all. Shifts in the cost of living, especially higher prices in essentials such as food and fuel, also affect most people. So poverty isn’t something that happens to others. It’s something that can happen to almost anyone.

But certain groups of people face a much higher risk of living in poverty than others.

Families with children

  • Families with children are more likely to be poor than people without children.
  • This makes sense: costs go up with the birth of a child at the same time as family income goes down with parents cutting back on work or paying for childcare.
  • In 2009/10, 53 per cent of those living below the poverty line had children.

Lone parents

  • Lone parents are more likely to experience poverty than those in a couple.
  • In 2009/10, lone parent families were almost twice as likely to live in poverty than two parent families.

People with a disability

  • Disability is strongly connected to poverty.
  • Parents with disabilities often face multiple barriers to work; children with disabilities place additional demands on the family.
  • In 2009/10, families with at least one disabled member were 30 per cent more likely to live in poverty than families without disabilities.

Certain ethnic minorities

  • Certain ethnic minorities are also more likely to live in poverty.
  • As with people with disabilities, discrimination in the workplace clearly plays a role in depressing incomes.
  •  In 2009/10, people from ethnic minorities were 64 per cent more likely to live in poverty than average.

Workless families or households

  • Households where only one adult works are at a much higher risk of poverty than average.
  • When benefits are set at too low a level they fail to act as a safety net for these families.
  • In 2009/10, families with one or more workless parent were seven times more likely to live below the poverty line than those where both parents had jobs.

Those living in Inner London

  • The high costs of living and especially housing in London puts extra pressure on low income families.
  • In 2009/10, families living in the capital were one and a half times more likely to live in poverty than families living outside London.