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Poverty in Britain

Poverty is defined as the lack of basic resources to maintain a basic diet, social activities, living conditions and amenities which are required in the society in which the individual belongs.

Basically, poverty is measured using the poverty line which is determined by income and material possessions such as food, clothing, heating etc. If a household earns less than the average income for their social group then they are indirectly defined as being poor as they are lacking in income to maintain the basic resources to live within the society to which they belong. They are then eligible for support financially and socially from the government. This is an example of relative poverty. Absolute poverty is the minimum resources essential to maintain living. On the other hand, the type of poverty experienced in Britain is relative poverty. Basically, absolute poverty is very rare in Britain.

In Britain, the “poor” are mainly children, single parents, unemployed and people from certain ethnic backgrounds particularly Pakistani/Bangladeshi people. These social groups according to Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2000) are more likely to suffer from low income poverty, which is living in a house which is below 60 per cent of the median income after housing costs. There has been a steady widening of the health gap between rich and poor from the 1980’s to 1990’s. This has been reduced by more people achieving full employment, 2,500 deaths per year amongst those aged less than 65 would be prevented if full employment was to be achieved, also the government trying to eradicate child poverty could decrease the gap.

However, after a white report on inequality in 2005 stating that people now live about eight years longer than their poorer contemporaries (Guardian 2005). It was shown that the health of all social groups was continuing to improve but there was seen to be a widening in health inequalities using infant mortality and life expectancy as a measure with the gap between better off and poor. The government need to make more improvements in public health in order to close the gap, they could do this by helping to increase awareness of healthy eating and also encourage or offer more employment opportunities for less skilled workers.

Inadequate income or lack of an income is the most common cause of poverty in Britain. The unemployed may be unemployed because they do not have the skills for jobs or the education and qualifications needed. This suggests that children from a higher social class or with parents from professional backgrounds will be expected to go onto further education compared with those of a lower class. In addition, issues concerning on how a person has been educated on financial issues and values from parents being passed onto their children is also another cause of poverty. Aside from this, health conditions are also a factor of poverty.

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  1. tracy sardelli

    On May 7, 2008 at 2:20 am


    you have highlighted an excellent topic, great essay. thank you for sharing.

  2. Francie

    On May 12, 2008 at 5:59 pm


    Abject poverty is a problem that seems to affect so many areas of our society. Those that deserve the help most desperately are as you say the ones that can not work for one reason or another. Nice job on a pretty important subject!

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