In Brief

Study finds more than 4m in UK are trapped in deep poverty

Anti-poverty campaigners say austerity has reversed progress

More than four million people in the UK are trapped in “deep poverty”, according to an independent study from the Social Metrics Commission.

This means that many people's income is at least 50% below the official breadline, “locking them into a weekly struggle to afford the most basic living essentials”, The Guardian says.

The study also found that seven million people, including 2.3m children, were affected by “persistent poverty”, meaning that they were not only in poverty but had been for at least two of the previous three years.

The Financial Times says the prime minister is “being urged to help” those suffering.

In cash terms, “deep poverty” means a couple with two children would have an income of less than £211 a week after housing costs, and a single parent with one child would be on less than £101.50 a week.

The commission’s report found that disability is a strong predictor of being in poverty. Nearly half of all those living below the breadline live in a household where someone is disabled.

The commission’s chair, Tory peer Philippa Stroud, said there is an urgent need for a concerted approach to the problem. “It is time to look again at our approach to children, and to invest in our children as the future of our nation,” she said.

The report comes after fears grew that extreme poverty, or destitution, was on the rise. A separate study found it was experienced by 1.5m people in the UK, as a result of the Conservative government’s austerity cuts. A destitution level of income is £140 a week for a couple with two children.

Poverty campaigners are demanding action. Child Poverty Action Group said austerity has undermined two decades of anti-poverty policy. “By cutting £40bn a year from our work and pensions budget through cuts and freezes to tax credits and benefits, the government has put progress into reverse,” said a spokeswoman.

Helen Barnard, a commission member and poverty expert at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “We need our new prime minister to get to work immediately on a bold plan to boost living standards and support our towns and cities in building a more hopeful economic future.”

A government spokesperson said: “Tackling poverty will always be a priority for this government. We want to build on our progress to ensure every family can thrive.”

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