UK Poverty: Facts and Figures


The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is observed every 17 October, and it gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the effort, struggle and scale of people living in poverty around the world.

The day, set up by Joseph Wresinski and run by the United Nations, also highlights that people living in poverty are the first ones to fight against it. Participation of people on low incomes in the day’s activities has been at the heart of the celebrations since its very beginning, in 1992.

But what is poverty like in the UK and who is it affecting?

Facts and figures

  • Around 14.2 million people live in poverty in the UK: 8.5 million adults, 4.5 million children and 1.4 million pensioners
  • People with disabilities are much more likely to be living in poverty: 48.3% of households in poverty live in families with a disabled person
  • People in work also live in poverty: 60% of people in poverty in Britain live in a household where someone is in work.
  • Renters are disproportionately affected by poverty: 70% of people in poverty live in rented accommodation.

Another way of measuring poverty is through the ‘Minimum Income Standard’ which is defined as how much you need ‘in order to have the opportunities and choices necessary to participate in society’.

  • A single person needs £18,400 a year before tax and benefits.
  • A single parent with one child needs £28,450 before tax and benefits.
  • Two parents and two children need £40,000 before tax and benefits.

Fight against poverty: How to get involved

  • Ask your local politicians to make the fight against poverty a central part of their plans
  • When talking about poverty, listen to people who have direct experience and put them at the heart of your plans going forward
  • Call to action: Sign a petition, attend an event and spread the word
  • Volunteer for an organisation which helps fight poverty
  • Fundraise for a charity, community group or local society which tackles poverty.