Money Wellness
A serious young boy sitting at a bus stop
category iconcost of living
calendar icon24 Oct 2023

One million children destitute in the UK

In 2022, there were about one million destitute children in the UK, according to a new study.

A report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) reveals this figure has almost tripled since 2017.

The overall number of destitute people in the UK has doubled between 2017 and 2022 to 3.8 million.

What is destitution?

Destitution is the most severe form of poverty. You are classed as destitute if you can’t afford to meet the most basic physical needs to be warm, dry, clean and fed.

What are the effects of destitution?

According to JRF, destitution strips people of their dignity and limits their social interactions.

People turn inward due to:

  • not being able to afford to socialise
  • fear of being judged
  • the stigma of poverty

This isolates people and puts pressure on their mental health, when they are already overburdened with worries about how to pay for the essentials.

The impact on children

Children are particularly badly affected by destitution. Their opportunities to play and learn are limited. And the longer they spend in severe poverty, the worse the outcome.

The cost for society

Society suffers when there are high levels of destitution. This is because:

  • people’s potential is wasted
  • more emergency accommodation has to be paid for
  • the cost of higher rates of anti-depressant prescriptions needs to be covered
  • there is more demand for services dealing with the consequences of hardship

Call for action

JRF is calling for:

  • an income safety net so everyone can afford the basics without relying on charity
  • affordable rents so that everyone can have a place to call home
  • a social safety net so everyone has support in times of need
  • protection for all regardless of where you come from
  • broader societal shifts so that jobs are secure and pay the living wage, and there is more social housing
Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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