Poverty in Britain

Poverty in the UK

The UK is the seventh richest country in the world, but many people today are struggling to put food on the table. This is why Oxfam is working to ensure that everyone in the UK has enough income to feed themselves and their families with dignity.

We’re currently working with Church Action on Poverty because we think it’s a scandal for government policy to make people go without food. Please send an urgent message to your MP and call for an inquiry into the links between benefit sanctions and food poverty.



Oxfam/Lorna Sculley


Lorna, 33, works as a dinner lady and lives in Tower Hamlets, one of the poorest boroughs in London. Though she works as many hours as she can, putting food on the table for herself and her children has become harder and harder as her income has shrunk in comparison to the rising costs of living. Lorna has had to resort to going to a food bank more than once.

One in five people in the UK are living in poverty – and government spending cuts, along with the rising cost of living, are hitting those at the bottom hardest. More and more families are struggling to make ends meet.

Over a third of the population now say that they are just one large heating bill or one broken washing machine away from hardship. Many are finding it difficult to heat their homes or buy essential clothing.  Most shockingly, the number of people in the UK that are going hungry is growing.

Two children in every classroom in the UK are arriving at school having eaten no breakfast.  Many are going hungry because of a failure of the safety net.

Sir Michael Marmot, a health inequality expert at University College London says, that despite the vast wealth of this country, many people on low incomes simply don’t have enough money to feed themselves and this has a huge impact on their health. “In the most deprived part of the Westminster, life expectancy for men is 17 years shorter than in the richest part of the borough. That’s how big the health inequalities are in the UK,” he says.

Oxfam believes everyone in the UK – the seventh richest country in the world – should have enough to eat. This is why we are working with partners like the Trussell Trust, which runs a network of foodbanks all over the country, and FareShare, who collect surplus food from the food industry and distribute it community groups, homeless shelters and local cafés.

Last year, 350,000 people received food parcels from the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network and 43% of those people had to visit a food bank because of cuts or gaps in welfare payments.

We are also working with schools, a foodbank and a city farm in Tower Hamlets to improve access for children and their families to fresh and healthy food. It’s a scandal that people are going without food because of government policy.




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