The data shows that approximately 19.3 million people were in poverty at some point over those four years. The ONS records someone as being in poverty if they live in a household with disposable income below 60% of the national median, before housing costs.
Single parents and pensioners were found to struggle most, with 60% of single parent households and 40% of those aged 65 and over affected by poverty between 2010 and 2013.
The proportion of the UK population who experienced poverty was higher than that across the EU as a whole where the figure was a quarter.
However the ONS reports that the UK fared better than the EU on ‘persistent poverty’ - which is defined as being in poverty in the current year and at least two of the three preceding years.
The number of those recorded as being in persistent poverty in the UK is 7.8% - around 4.6 million people – compared to 9.6% across the EU as a whole.
Commenting on the findings, the ONS said: “Although some people are stuck in poverty, the majority of ‘the poor’ consist of a constantly changing group of different individuals. Although poverty persists for only a relatively small minority, evidence suggests that those who have already been in poverty are more likely to experience poverty again in the future than those who never been in poverty.”
For ‘overall poverty’ – the proportion of people falling below the poverty line at some point during the four years – the UK ranks 13th out of the 28 EU member states. Greece, Romania, Lithuania and Spain are amongst countries with higher overall poverty levels, whilst the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark have recorded the lowest levels.
Office for National Statistics: Persistent Poverty in the UK and EU, 2008-2013 (PDF file size 208kb)
BBC News article, 2015: Third of UK population 'fell below the poverty line'
Guardian news article, 2015: Income poverty affects third of UK population