Causes of Poverty in the UK Analysis Essay
In the world economy, the United Kingdom is a developed country. However, income distribution in the country is poor with some people being extremely rich, while others living in extreme poverty. A part of citizens that has low incomes also has low living standards. However, the country has a strong social infrastructure, and, thus, the low-income earners live in relative poverty. This essay seeks to examine a view of poverty that the country has to embrace compared to its social structures and public policies. The research focuses on the main causes of poverty in the country as well as future interventions and policies to end poverty. It uses different books, articles, peer-reviewed journals, reports as well as statistics from different organizations to support the thesis.
It is important to determine the main causes of poverty in the United Kingdom. It is because its form in the country differs from that of other developing countries. A comparison of the income of the population’s part related to the average income assists in bringing out an actual structure of poverty in the state. The research examines the lack of material needs for citizens to support and participate in a daily life. Such a report is important in order to determine the situation of people locally in terms of housing, incomes, health, crime, skills, employment as well as a general social structure. Researchers have carried out different studies in the country in an attempt to examine the main causes and impacts of this issue. With the support of a theory and research, the essay bases its arguments on the thesis statement. The view of poverty that the country embraces will have direct impacts on the public policies that it pursues.
Poverty in the UK: Methodology
The research uses the case study research design. It is by selecting the case of the United Kingdom, in general, and examining the situation as well as the theories surrounding poverty in the country. It operates the research procedures by applying both qualitative and quantitative methods of the research. Quantitative methods involve the use of statistical data. It uses different statistical methods and variables such as mean, median, variance, and standard deviation among others to examine different phenomena. In this case, the research uses data from the UK about poverty, per capita income, the standards of living, surveys of a lifestyle, employment, and the Gross Domestic Product among others. The methodologies also apply the qualitative information. It is the information, which cannot be quantified. It includes job satisfaction, people’s perceptions, and ideas.
There are different benefits for the research methodology
The first benefit is the fact that it uses data and information already available. The use of secondary data eliminates the complexities of the primary data collection such as the use of interviews, questionnaires, and other primary data collections. There are secondary sources in the country being important for poverty measurement, social exclusion, deprivation, and standards of living.
The sources used also give a change to the country’s poverty situation with some time. It is clear by examining the historical information about the country’s extent and nature of social inclusion as well as poverty for a period of time. In this case, the period has been taken as for the last two decades. Thus, the sources assist in mapping the country’s situation in the future with several interventions and public policies. It is also possible to examine different causes of poverty over time with different policies in the past that generate various outcomes of poverty. Thus, the sources have great advantages as far as the topic is concerned. This research design also has some limitations. A major challenge is that it uses the already available information. Thus, the results of the research depend on some other researches original scholars, with underlying limitations of that primary data collection procedure. It implies that the research is prone to errors in the sources. The research procedure involves reviewing the literature on poverty in the UK and choosing the most appropriate sources. Therefore, the research will apply about five research assistants to review journals, books, articles, and other secondary sources of information. In the research, a main challenge is that researchers as well as authorities are carrying out studies each day about poverty in the country. Consequently, newer researches might negate the inferences that the study makes. The authorities in the UK are also aware of the poverty situation. They may formulate major policies to significantly change this issue as the research continues. However, the study counters this by using the most recent sources with updates where necessary. It implies that the researcher and research assistants with the help of an academic advisor have changed the original sources during their study to accommodate the new information.
The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as well as the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have carried out different surveys to determine the actual situation of poverty in the country as well as its causes. The organizations have also collaborated with other public as well as private non-governmental organizations in order to determine the purposes and social effects of poverty in the UK (Kirby 2000). Both organizations are the valid sources of statistics since they have enough funding to carry out unbiased and independent researches locally. The organizations have also conducted different studies in the past to determine the economic situation of citizens in the country for more than 50 years (Kirby 2000). The two main research organizations collaborate with other academic, social, and economic institutions to ensure the validity of information. These institutions include the University of Bristol, the Department of Social Policy, Herriot-Watt University, Social Work at York Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, Queen’s University Belfast, Open University, The World Bank, and the European Union, etc. Thus, the data available in these sources are valid and have a great impact on the European context. The organizations have spent about 10 million pounds during two years to come up with these statistics (Walsh & Moore 2000).
Statistics show that there are about one in every six children in the UK living in poverty. It puts the percentage of kids living in households with the lower income than the average at about 17% of the total children’s population. In figures, there were about 2.3 million of such kids in the country in 2013. The number changes after households pay the housing costs. It is up to about 3.5 million (27% of the total children’s population) of kids in the country living at lower than average homes. This figure is higher compared to that in 2012 with 300,000 more. These figures are alarming provided that their families live in a relative poverty, with less than 60% of the median net income being less than 250 pounds a week. The figures show that there 100,000 children living in poor families that have been employed since 2012. The figures are not different from those of adults with approximately 5.6 million out of the total population living in relative poverty (Salvadori 2006). It is before they pay their housing costs with the figures increasing to 7.9 million after housing payments. In 2012, about 2 million of pensioners in the country were living in absolute poverty. In percentage, about 15% of the working population lives in relative poverty with below 60% of the median disposable income. For pensioners, the figures are at about 16%. They have changed over time with a gradual reduction in poverty in the last one decade. Therefore, poverty continues to be a challenge in the UK (Salvadori 2006).
The dynamics of poverty in the country show that the society there takes some time to change from one social class to another. Examining different studies gives only one perception of poverty locally with the conclusion that the term itself only refers to the poor and non-poor people. However, the dynamics in the country proves that citizens have different people experiencing various kinds and forms of poverty. With this understanding, the one is able to see people who experience poverty in the UK, coming out of it as well as those not experiencing poverty anymore. In the country, there is a population that has come out of poverty while some other percentage still lives in poverty going through some changes in their economic classes with time. The use of just one concept to examine poverty locally is misleading and gives the information basing on a concept of the poor (Gregg & MacMillan 2012). The people locally have diverse poverty experiences with some dynamics assisting to determine differences in these experiences. An understanding of dynamics also assists in not only helping those who live in poverty. It as well helps those who have come out of it from rejoining the low economic class (Gregg & MacMillan 2012).
There are different studies showing that the poverty dynamics research started in the country in the 1990s. It is with the realization that different development policies in the country have affected certain poverty aspects. The poverty levels for children in the country have increased to about 30% from 10% in the 1970s. Thus, important interventions would not only affect those ones currently living in poverty. However, they impact on those being a bit above the poverty line. A view on the literature defining poverty dynamics gives an understanding of poverty eradication, reduction as well as some effects of policies and interventions. Future interventions can also fill a gap that the research in poverty dynamics has left. Poverty dynamics show that the levels of this issue in the country vary with time. The government’s measurement of this problem at any point in time does not give any specific information of people that have experienced poverty. It only gives their numbers. For example, statistics over the last two years have showed that at least 15% of the population has experienced poverty (Smith & Middleton 2007). However, about 24 percent of people experienced poverty at one time or some other during the period of two years. Thus, the understanding of definitive characteristics for poverty as a constant phenomenon does not give any correct social situation. The statistics in a six year period show that at least a third part of the population has at one time experienced poverty with the low income after paying for housing. It shows that more than a double part of the actual population today living in poverty has been in that situation in the last seven years. Consequently, poverty statistics should include poverty dynamics to determine the appropriate causes and interventions (Smith & Middleton 2007).
The measure of poverty in the country has always been through the use of the national median income. It is in order to determine the population that cannot afford the disposable income being 60% lower than the median one. The research shows that organizations in the country that give poverty do not consider the fact that most citizens who enter poverty in the country leave it in less than two years. Thus, the percentage of those people who constantly is being in poor conditions is actually less than in the statistics. Those who live in the continued poverty are actually less than the statistics give. With poverty not being a persistent phenomenon, its measurement should change. It is to accommodate the one-off transient experiences of this issue with a better understanding (Alcock 2006). These measures should ensure that they focus on the people who get in and out of poverty with some changes in a range of their income mobility (Alcock 2006). An increase and decrease of the income especially for low-income earners affects poverty levels even within a period of one year. The low income earners only get some income increments to get them out of poverty with uncertainty on future increases. Thus, the population that remains in poverty is recurrent with a very high probability of those people re-entering this issue. Only about 25% of the poorest ones rise in a financial situation with a replacement rate of about the tenth. Thus, the measures to determine the causes of poverty in the country should focus on all low-income earners in the UK. They should not just consider the bottom population but should be holistic in computation. Therefore, the measures should include people experiencing all forms of this issue. They are the people who have the transient poverty. Others experience the recurrent, persistent, and one-off poverty (Brown et al. 2010).
Causes of Poverty
There are several causes of poverty in the UK. These are both the social and economic aspects. The UK is among the largest countries in the world’s economy. It is important to determine why a person in every six citizens lives in relative poverty. The UK government has a vision to ensure that every woman, man, and child in the country lives with a fair treatment with the respect for their dignity and life. It is regardless of their financial positions. In order to determine the main social causes of poverty locally, it is important to know that more than 13 million of the UK citizens do not have enough finance resources to live on. This part of the population does not have the power to air their views. They don’t obtain with the feelings about how it feels to be poor as well as the social injustice that they face during this issue (Brown & Schafft 2011). The country has also had a poverty benefits’ program, which is inflexible and that needs a desperate update. The social welfare program has played a key role in ensuring that the poor in the country have an opportunity to go up the ladder in the social and economic development. The country has had one of the strongest social infrastructures in the world. It is with different programs to support human welfare programs such as healthcare and education for all (Brown & Schafft 2011).
The look at the culture of poverty shows that its levels have changed significantly since the 1960s. At this time, the levels of relative poverty were low at about ten percent. The levels then rose to nearly 30 percent in the 1990s. Poverty has remained a challenge for policymakers and since 1990. However, they have continued to play an important role in the poverty reduction with significant changes from the 1990s up to date. The issue halved in the last decade due to the efforts from legislators. The citizens have a certain culture as far as poverty causes are concerned (Darton & Strelitz 2003). From a social perspective, there are about three general causes of poverty. These are the social infrastructure, society opportunities and barriers in a social development such as family characteristics and social beliefs (Darton & Strelitz 2003).
Discrimination in terms of ethnicity, race, religion, and other characteristics is common in the country. Citizens believe that poverty is for the poor people who cannot afford luxuries in their lives. They are the only ones whom it affects. The people’s attitudes and behaviour about poverty are also important in explaining why some people are living in such bad conditions. It is because citizens in the UK partially believe that the system has played a key role in influencing the poor conditions locally. The culture of dependency is whereby a certain part of the society depends on the working members. Such an example is employees in the United Kingdom who have to support the retired family members (Geddes 1997). The culture of idleness and dependency has passed in families from one generation to another. It is due to the fact that people among certain relatives or in neighbourhood believe that their social and geographical position faces the exclusion. Social culture develops a perception that people do not seek any investment and employment opportunities. They believe that such possibilities have disappeared from their achieving (Geddes 1997).
The culture of poverty leads to weak investment characteristics and a weak market for labour. There people find it difficult to cope with their current lifestyle. Their attitude shifts from focusing on education and work to find some ways to escape the social deprivation. The welfare system in the UK ensures that those having enough resources to maintain their livelihood depend on the government as well as other non-governmental welfare programs, i.e. the donors for their sustenance. The benefits arising from the value of work have become fewer because people experiencing poor conditions do not have any reason to work. They believe that the system can accommodate them in their current situation (Grimshaw 2008). The specific research on people’s perception of poverty shows that the social infrastructure has created such a culture. As a result, low income earners do not attempt to improve their socioeconomic position. Government incentives play a significant role in ensuring that they get all their basic needs with the elimination of personal motivation to come out of poverty (Grimshaw 2008).
The look at the family structure in the United Kingdom brings a better understanding of family roles in relation to poverty. A breakdown of the family structural characteristics will bring an overall understanding of poverty issues in the UK. In the research, it is important to understand the properties which influence poverty with a focus on family structures. The welfare benefits for families in the country also influence the individual choice for the kind of lifestyle that one pursues. The family structure is a main cause of poverty with the future generation in the certain family making choices according to the influence from their lineage. The studies from the ESRC show that this structure in the UK influences the choices that children make. These children decide depending on their social and economic positions. In the country, about 8 percent of kids end up in cohabitation or as single parents. They lack the faith in a family institution because of their childhood experience (George 2010). They believe that the family is an unstable institution. They have a fear to engage in lasting relationships and create strong family commitments. It is a main cause why they end up in unstable single parenting situations and cohabitation (George 2010).
There is a high correlation between the family structure and poverty. The choices that children make affect their future socioeconomic status. There are also significant effects on their poverty levels. In the country, 46 percent of kids living in single parent families exist in poverty. It is very unfortunate that no secondary source gives the marital status of people experiencing poor living conditions with their family history. However, the ESRC surveys show that about 78 percent of children existing in poverty come from the families with a single parent. 20 percent of kids below three years living in relatively poor conditions are from stable families. About half of others are living in unstable family conditions with the uncertainty about their relatives and parents (Kendall 2003). These children end up at foster homes, orphanages, streets. Some of them are living with other family members such as grandparents (Kendall 2003). Using the comparative evidence from the US and other countries in Europe, researchers have found out that cohabitation in the UK for women is higher than in the US, Germany, and Canada. Single mothers have more disadvantages than their married counterparts with unstable social relationships. Therefore, poverty in the country increases with the culture that every family develops. Studies also show that people experiencing poor conditions in the United Kingdom say that their families are a main cause of their current situation. It is because the family has created the culture of poverty for their generation to follow. This behaviour does not encourage aggressiveness and does not fund the education for their children. It creates a social perspective whereby poverty continues from one generation to the next one (Kumar 1993).
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Alcohol and other drugs, which include heroin and cocaine, is a true contributor to poverty levels within the United Kingdom. Drug addiction reported from the poverty site has been on its rise and can relay a real connection with the poor conditions’ level. It is related especially to the group of those involved in practice. These drugs are all highly addictive. Something that allows space for an argument, their usage opens one up to the title expensive habits. These behaviours are expensive. Anyone who uses them will have to find some ways to finance his or her habits (Machin & McNally 2006). Their effects are, on the other hand, somewhat truly friendly to poverty. They affect the rate of productivity amongst the addicts. It goes down. Low productivity and staggering esteem will affect negatively the gross domestic product of people. There are also the effects of stress and likelihood of suicide and an increased need for medication (Machin & McNally 2006).
First of all, any investment being directed at medication is hefty. The chances of it to be termed as an investment depend on the people’s willingness to quit the habits and engage themselves in the hard work. If that is not forth coming, it leads to a hefty individual and the government expenditure. It will increase the chances of a poverty increase for individuals and the government (Pettitt 1998). Secondly, drug addicts could lose their lives through a suicide or an over consumption of substances. When parents, for instance, die, the risk for their children to have the poor living conditions is being very high. Chances of concentration in a class will at high levels be affected negatively. The problem looked under a subtitle of the lack of education may arise. The risk of exposure to HIV and AIDS is a real blow to any government (Pettitt 1998).
The line between education and poverty exists. The relationship is inversely proportional in the sense that the more one is educated, the higher chances are for him or her to tackle poverty. In the United Kingdom, for example, children born in 1970 had fewer chances of escaping poverty than those born in 1958. It is according to the interim findings of the research being carried out by trust. It is so following an increase in the population over years and not similarly matching an increase at schools (Philo 1995). In his campaign, the statement before he had got into the office, David Cameron had this observation. He mentioned the strategies to employ to see that the problem herein expressed was tackled with the urgency it warrants. Combining these few factors discussed above, you will notice that a really big number of citizens within the national boundaries of the United Kingdom are, therefore, finding their way into a poverty bracket. I may call it so for the lack of a better word (Philo 1995).
It followed by the lack of enough opportunity for the population within this bracket. It has led to people not exploiting their full potential of something that has, in turn, bred a huge degree of frustration. Of course, this does not stand to prove as a main reason why there are more than three and a half million kids living in poverty in the country. However, it only goes to show that the lack of the good education should be the real answer to the problem. It will add up to benefit the population we are discussing. If that is achieved to the level of having everybody realize the talents and work towards the fulfilment of their potential, the results would be rather beneficial to people and the government, at large (Platt 2007).
Individual agency is also a major cause of poverty in the United Kingdom. It is because the person’s behaviour and perceptions will influence life choices with effects on their socioeconomic positions. Individual agency refers to the cognitive and behavioural characteristics of a person. Every human responds differently to various life situations affecting their choices. Unemployed people, the disabled, the retirees, and other beneficiaries of social benefits programs behave in such a way that they have accepted their fate (Andress 2008). They only depend on the programs for the daily sustenance. They do not engage in other ways to improve their social and economic status. These attitudes create a culture whereby people focus on their current dependence programs without having a necessary motivation to come out from their poor living conditions. It leads to a belief that the rich ones control all the resources at the expense of the poor people. The welfare programs in the country have not achieved their objectives. It is to assist the economically deprived ones (Blokland-Potters & Savage 2008). They have rather created a notion that some families and generations are entirely disconnected in the cultural perspectives of the society. It damages the people’s independence to work for their livelihood and hurts their motivation, ambition, and likelihood of attempting to go out from poverty. It traps a certain part of the society into poor living conditions. Individual agency traps people into poverty with a lack of proper individual choices to influence a rise in the social status (Blokland-Potters & Savage 2008).
The distortion in the political and economic levels as well as some shifts is also the major causes of poverty in the country. The political system influences all the activities in the community by affecting the economic growth as well as reduction of social deprivation. There are many areas of concern as far as poverty in the UK is concerned. The view at the economic decline locally has led to an increase in poverty levels. The country has suffered a decrease in its economic structure especially with the financial crisis of 2008. The banking system in the United Kingdom was on a verge of collapsing (Singh 1980). Economic planners as well as legislators in the country have had great challenges in attempting to come up with the most effective policies of that time. With every citizen locally facing hard times, employment and other important economic activities have failed in bringing the country to success. With a boom, the economic situation becomes friendly for employers and the general population. It creates better employment opportunities for all with government policies to support a development process. Economic distractions refer to some changes in the economic structure which influence a further change in the national income (Raffer 2010). The ability of the population to pay for goods and services has significant effects on the economic structure. The economic growth locally does not always lead to improvements in the market for goods and services at the local levels. It is because the economic growth does not directly affect everybody in the UK (Raffer 2010).
The look at the Gross Domestic Product, for example, does not show the achievements of the United Kingdom in terms of the human welfare. It is because the GDP does not deal with welfare services such as education, healthcare, and employment. It can increase at the expense of the certain part in the population. Certain people can benefit because of the others. The exploitation of labour and inequality in wealth distribution affects the country’s structure concerning poverty. Consequently, the rich will become richer, and the poor will be poorer. The efforts to enable the regeneration of neighbourhoods which experience poverty have been increasing. The relationship between trade and work dictates an ability of people to change one social position to the other one. Business perspectives in the country have played a meagre role in improving human lives (Salvadori 2006). The structural understanding of the UK with the policies to empower business to play a key role in the social improvement has not been successful locally. It is because there are different schools of thought as far as the factors are concerned. Appropriate economic and political structures in a developed country should ensure that there is the segregation between local businesses and societies. It will encourage the investment in such areas as housing, local facilities, education, and skills’ improvement. Savings and investments are important economic activities which depend on the political and economic structure inside the UK (Seymour 2000). It is with the efforts to address the regeneration of social perspectives. They reduce the further segregation of deprived communities from the country’s mainstream way of life. The economic and political system should ensure that the supply of labour and remuneration assists those people experiencing poverty. The political structure has ignored the representation at the grass root level (Seymour 2000).
The United Kingdom together with Ireland is ranked as some of the best performing countries to have the successfully reduced poverty. The real stretch towards the achievements started about fifteen years ago with the leadership of Tony Blair, the English Prime Minister. His government enacted statutes that would see that the fight against poverty would not only exist on paper. It would extend to the levels of implementation. This way, all sectors of the government and the community are working together to achieve success. Amongst the policies are the Welfare Reform Act 2007 and the Equality Children Act 2006. The government closely monitors all the implementation processes and goes ahead to publish an annual report. It illuminates the government’s progress and measures. It has seen the government pulling some really huge strides that include a decrease of poverty for some target groups like children and elder people (Wolff 2004).
It has also seen more citizens with working an ability to join the labour market. It could increase the per capita income and have a real improvement in the support and promotion of financial securities to families. The taxation system has also been forced to accommodate to some changes, which include the establishment of a national minimum wage, a tax credit for low income earners, and tax credits to provide a financial support to parents. In 2003-2004, fewer children were living in poverty conditions as compared to the years 1996-1997. The data have been derived from the report on poverty reduction strategies in the United Kingdom of the year 2006. According to it, the threshold of 25 % of poverty reduction amongst children had not been met. However, the statistics of 23% was to give the government a true reason to smile. Over the last eleven years, the United Kingdom has experienced a huge growth in its GDP and employment. It is being the most likely attribution of the statistics observed (Salvadori 2006).
FFFThe Role of Government and Its Policies
The country’s political system has some members of Parliament that belong to the central government. The local governments are not strong since they only deal with the provision of services and management of property at local levels. The country has not used the devolution of power, as there is the United States. It implies that people’s representation at the local level is poor. It creates a gap between the government and citizens. The former one does not organize any investment and savings programs locally because the banking system is a private sector. It has left this sphere to private investors with an action discouraging the culture of saving. The government has a major role to play as far as the poverty reduction in the country is concerned. Legislators have attempted to formulate several policies to influence the poor conditions’ decrease (Gregg & MacMillan 2012). There are several Acts of Parliament that attempt to reduce poverty levels in the country. However, the government has a long way to go as far as fighting poor conditions is concerned. The first important policy involves the creation of a local representation and advice programs to create the culture of poverty alleviation. The structural interventions include setting up an economic structure. It could support microfinance programs with different ways to empower the low income earners such as the availability of loans. Policies should also influence the social infrastructure with some benefits programs. The latter ones do not encourage idleness and dependency. The government should set these programs to support people by improving their skills and giving them an opportunity to invest. Giving people money to afford their daily needs does not assist in the poverty alleviation. Thus, the state body should formulate some policies which ensure that people experiencing poverty benefit in a long rung. The means should also promote a social cohesion especially among the youth. It will be important for the future social development (Kendall 2003).
The view on the social and structural causes of poverty suggests that there should be the policies, which can enable the poverty reduction. The government provides family, tax, and childcare benefits as well as some work incentives among other social welfare programs. These ones have played a key role in ensuring that people experiencing poverty can afford housing, food, clothing, education, healthcare, and other essential services. However, fighting this issue of poor living conditions does not stop there. It is a long term activity which requires the collaboration between the government as well as the society. By the 1990s, it was evident that the government had ignored poverty alleviation with its rates doubling during 30 years. The statistics also show that a change in political leaders and a formulation of policies also affect a poverty alleviation process. The economic structure in the United Kingdom should be in such a way that it encourages savings, investments, and the employment locally. It is to enable people who come from poor conditions from going back to the levels. The social structure should be in such a way that it encourages a social development with the provision of affordable services. It will eliminate both the social as well as structural causes and poverty, thus, ending this problem in the country.