High Housing Costs Drive Pensioners Into Poverty

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA

The streets of London are not paved with gold for everyone as many pensioners and children live below the poverty line mainly due to the high cost of housing in the capital.

Research by think tank the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows around 14 million people live in poverty in the UK – comprising 8 million working age men and women, 4 million children and 2 million pensioners.

The report UK Poverty 2019/20 highlights poorly paid jobs and expensive housing as two of the main drivers of poverty.

Four ways to tackle poverty

To tackle the problem of poverty, the foundation is calling for:

  • Better paid jobs
  • Better training and opportunities for workers in part-time posts
  • Better support from benefits for those struggling financially
  • More low cost housing

The report explains the poverty rate in the UK is 22% and has stuck around that figure for 15 years with the highest rates in London, the North, Midlands and Wales. Places with the lowest poverty rate include the South, excluding the capital, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“For a decent standard of living, we all need security and stability in our lives – secure housing, a reliable income, and support when things get difficult,” said Chris Goulden, Deputy Director of Evidence and Impact at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Redesigning the rules

“For too many of us, there is no such security. Millions of people in the UK are struggling to get by, leading insecure and precarious lives, held back from improving their living standards. It’s time to take action on poverty and put this right. In this report we set out what we need to do to turn the tide on poverty.

“We need to build the public will for action; this report highlights the importance of place, and how it affects people’s access to a job with reliable and sufficient hours. Also the importance of being able to afford to pay your housing costs, and knowing you can rely on the social security system to help you when circumstances threaten to pull you into poverty.

“Much of the world of work, social security and the housing market was designed based on decisions about our society’s priorities and resources. We can choose to redesign them so they loosen poverty’s grip and work better for everyone.”

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