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New report calls for urgent welfare reform

  • 12/07/2016
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International Longevity Centre says 15 million people at risk of poverty or social exclusion

Relative poverty graph by country via the International Longevity Centre UK

A new report by the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) ranks the UK as 15th out of a possible 23 European countries in poverty and social exclusion and warns of “endemic squalor” across Britain. The report, based on a study of European welfare states between 2003-2014, suggests urgent action is required to tackle the region’s rapidly ageing population - with approximately 15 million citizens classified as “at risk of poverty or social exclusion”.

Those aged 18 to 24 years old have the highest rate of poverty and social exclusion, but the think tank found the elderly to be especially at risk. The report, entitled Measuring State Effectiveness, listed the UK as 14th for housing quality, pointing to “cost overburden” among the working age population, and young people in particular.

The UK was also ranked 9th for health of the population, 9th for access to education, 5th for intergenerational fairness and 11th for overall state effectiveness. 

Dr Cesira Urzì Brancati, Research Fellow, ILC-UK, said: “Given that the UK is currently the 5th largest economy in the world, we might expect it to rank higher than 15th in Europe for social protection spending and expect it to allocate spending more evenly across the life cycle.

Future governments need a coherent strategy to deliver a welfare state which guarantees the best possible provision for the largest number of people across the UK. This strategy cannot be based on what is politically expedient; instead, future governments must base these judgements on evidence. Looking at approaches to social security, health, housing and education across Europe to identify successful strategies is a good place to start, particularly in times of such uncertainty”.

Turn2us comment

Turn2us Chief Executive Simon Hopkins commented: “It is shocking that the world’s fifth largest economy doesn’t even make the top ten of European countries tackling poverty and social exclusion.

“Welfare support is a vital lifeline for those experiencing financial hardship, and without it, many would struggle to pay for housing, food and other essentials, and provide for their families. Yet we know that much of the help that is available through welfare benefits and charitable grants still doesn’t get to those who qualify for it and we need to change that. With around £15 billion in welfare benefits going unclaimed every year and over 3,000 charitable funds available, we urge anyone struggling financially to see what support could be available. Similarly, I’d ask everyone to think whether they have a neighbour, friend or relative who might be struggling and to help them access the support that might make a huge difference.

“Raising awareness of this support is so important, and by working with others – ranging from partner charities to commercial organisations and individuals -  we can continue to help spread the word and make this help as accessible and prominent as possible.”

#BenefitsAware

We recently launched our #BenefitsAware Campaign, which aims to help people in financial hardship access all the support available to them. 

Our free and confidential Benefits Calculator always reflects the latest welfare changes, so anyone can check their current entitlements and how to make a claim. Our Grants Search has almost 3,000 charitable funds listed and includes information on eligibility criteria and how to apply.

You can find further support on specific issues in the “Your Situation” section of our website. You can also find out how to add your voice to ours in getting this practical help to those who need it most.

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