September 15, 2005


More British singles falling into poverty

A story published today in the Guardian reports that single people of working age are among poorest groups in Great Britain, research claimed today.

An estimated 3.9 million single people of working age are living in poverty, according to charity Elizabeth Finn Care.

More than 300,000 such people, without dependant children, have fallen below the poverty line since 1996/97.

The charity, which helps people get out of poverty, warned that these people were least likely to have family to turn to, and tended to remain invisible, slipping further into the poverty trap.

A staggering 20%, or 12.5 million people, in the UK, including 8.8 million adults, live below the poverty line amidst the prosperity of the world's fourth largest economy," said Jonathan Welfare, chief executive of Elizabeth Finn Care.

"The government's focus on child and pensioner poverty has made significant progress. We now need to give the same level of attention to the group that has not benefited, namely working age adults without dependant children.

Mr Welfare said that the growing number of single households in the UK meant the number of individuals at risk of falling into the poverty trap is on the increase.

"They remain unseen because many come from backgrounds where we don't often expect poverty to exist and they don't come forward to ask for help," he said.

The group said poverty was becoming more complex and difficult to pinpoint as a result of the changing patterns of family life in the UK, with more single adults and single parents, more people living away from their families or losing contact with them.

It added that people living in poverty were more likely to be female, divorced, widowed or separated.

The research was being presented at a conference today looking at the changing nature of poverty and the options open to them for help.

The charity said people who did not have the financial and emotional support of a spouse or family were often left feeling they had nowhere to turn to for help if they got into problems, such as losing their job.

It said single people of working age were likely to be outside the social services system, with no community or social workers monitoring their situation to detect the problem early.

It is calling on the government, public sector and voluntary organisations to work together to identify people who are in need and point them in the right direction to get help.