Creating a fairer Britain
In order to flourish in life, every person needs a basic level of financial security and decent housing. Yet some groups are far more likely than others to experience poverty, to lack access to financial products, or to live in substandard housing.
The evidence shows stark disparities in relation to gender, disability, and ethnicity which in many cases result from the inequalities in education and employment outcomes described elsewhere in this Report.
Women are much more likely to be low paid than men throughout their working lives. This often translates into lower income in retirement as well. Women, particularly those who have been lone parents, are particularly susceptible to poverty in later life, as they are less likely to have been able to build up savings and pensions. Households headed by women are also more likely to live in overcrowded or substandard homes than those headed by men.
Disabled households tend to have less overall household income than those without, and working disabled people are more likely than average to be on low hourly pay. The fact that disabled people often spend periods of their working-age lives out of work increases their risk of poverty in later life. Disabled people are also less likely than average to have a bank account, and people who have learning disabilities are much less likely to have one. These worse outcomes are compounded by the extra costs associated with living with some impairments – the proportion of disabled pensioner households with low incomes is not significantly higher than that of non-disabled pensioner households, partly due to their receipt of disability benefits, but the standard threshold of low income makes no allowance for any extra costs of disability.
Meanwhile, some ethnic minority groups experience much worse outcomes than average – and even worse than might be expected, taking into account differences in age structures, educational attainments and other factors. People of Indian origin are more likely to have low household income than White people, despite the fact that a low proportion of Indian people earn low hourly wages, and they have higher than average educational attainments. More than half of Pakistani and Bangladeshi adults live in poverty and are also much less likely than average to a have a current account or home contents insurance. Just over a quarter of Pakistani and Bangladeshi adults have formal savings, compared to two-thirds of White people. Asian and Black households are also several times more likely than White British households to live in overcrowded or substandard homes.
Finally this chapter highlights the gap between society’s richest and poorest. The poorest 10% possess average wealth one hundredth the average wealth of the richest 10%. People on lower incomes are more likely to live in overcrowded housing, and those living in social housing, in particular, are more likely to say that their local neighbourhood has problems with crime.
The analysis of material deprivation and living standards in Britain today has revealed a mixed picture. Income poverty remains persistent for some groups such as some groups of women, ethnic minority groups and families with disabled members.
However, in contrast there has been growing material wealth and growing home ownership alongside a persistent gap between richest and poorest.
The experience of poverty is closely related to poorer outcomes in terms of living conditions, overcrowding, crime in the neighbourhood and destitution – leading to poor health and low life expectancy.