Cost of poverty estimated at £78bn per year

Academics working with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have today given a shocking estimate of the human and financial cost of poverty.

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Today the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has revealed that the UK poverty costs the average taxpayer £1,200 a year. The charity’s new report, Counting the cost of UK poverty by Heriot-Watt and Loughborough Universities, has estimated the annual cost of poverty at £78 billion. The research suggests £1 in every £5 spent on public services is needed because of the impact and cost poverty has on people’s lives.

The report outlined the following costs:

  • £29bn on treating health conditions associated with poverty
  • £10bn on schools providing initiatives such as free school meals
  • £9bn on the police and criminal justice systems dealing with the higher incidence of crime in deprived areas
  • £7.5bn on children’s services and early years provision
  • £4.6bn on adult social care

In response David McAuley, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, says:

“This new evidence points to the devastating long term impact poverty has on people’s lives and the huge cost to the services supporting them and society in general. Tackling poverty and inequality is not only a matter of offering compassion and hope to those in difficulty, but an economic imperative. We must all step up to the challenge.

“Last year foodbank use reached a record high and these same community projects are now doing more than ever before to run other services, such as debt and money advice, cooking skills and fuel vouchers, seeking to prevent people falling into a crisis where they are unable to eat.  But much more must be done and today we renew calls for Government, business and charity to come together in a joined up approach to ending poverty and hunger in the UK and ensure the social safety net works for everyone.”