COVID and the exacerbation of poverty

Freedom4Girls recently reported that many families have been left with a choice between basic food necessities and sanitary products. Tina Leslie, from the charity, stated that: “The situation has become untenable.” 

The impacts of Covid-19 are being felt by many and the situation in the UK is becoming very severe. Poverty in the UK is on the rise with more and more people finding themselves in a desperate situation where they must choose between basic everyday necessities. 

The UK’s main sector of employment is in the service industry and with many bars and restaurants still remaining shut, a lot of people have since been left without work. There are also those who have been unable to find employment since the first lockdown in March when they lost their job because of the pandemic. As a result of this, many people are being left in a financially insecure situation. 

Poverty levels in the UK are now at an all-time high. It has been reported that most children living in poverty are now from a working family. It now stands that seven in ten children living in poverty are from a working family. There is also a disparity in where poverty is hitting the hardest. With the North of England, Midlands, Wales and London having the greatest levels of poverty in the UK. 

The Legatum Institute reported that an additional 700,000 people have been pushed into poverty this year because of the impacts of Covid-19 on the economy. To be classified as living in poverty, you must earn 54% of the median UK income. This means that today in the UK there are now 15 million people living in poverty and who earn less than 54% of average UK income.

There has also been a recent cap on Universal Credit benefits for families who find themselves in a challenging situation and unable to find work. As a result of this cut, 160,000 households will be left without this benefit and the numbers of those living in poverty is expected to increase. 

In order to combat these issues locally, Leeds City Council has responded by investing £1.6 million to support families in need. Another recent development to combat poverty in the UK is that the humanitarian charity UNICEF has also stated that it will launch an emergency response to the child poverty crisis in the UK. 

UNICEF is an international humanitarian charity which combats child poverty across the globe. The agency has stated that the coronavirus pandemic was the most prevalent issue affecting children and poverty levels since the second world war. This is the first time that UNICEF has stepped in to help children in the UK for more than 70 years since the last world war. They have pledged to invest £25,000 to the School Food Matters community project to help provide school children with meals. 

With Christmas approaching, there is also a wider commitment of local communities and councils to do more to combat local poverty. More people are pulling together locally to send more resources to food banks this year for those living in poverty. 

Harriet Hudson-Brightmore

Image source: Unsplashed