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Shocking figure on UK poverty dubbed 'stat of the year' in 2019

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Golborne, an area of Kensington and Chelsea, is one of the poorest places in the capital despite the wider borough's wealth. Photo: Matt Crossick/ EMPICS Entertainment


Britain’s ‘statistic of the year’ in 2019 is a shocking one — over half of the UK’s workers in poverty are actually working.

The eye-catching figure is the finding that 58% of UK households in poverty have at least one adult in work, despite the widespread promotion of work as the route out of poverty.

Experts say this “highlights one of the biggest issues” facing the country.

The statistic came out of an analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), one of Britain’s most respected think tanks.

An IFS report earlier this year highlighted the significance of in-work poverty. It found the number of deprived households with someone in work rose from 37% of all those below the breadline in the mid-1990s to 58% by 2017-18.

The IFS said the changes partly reflecting lower incomes, but also declining pensioner poverty and the recent boom in employment that has reduced the number of households with no-one in work.

READ MORE: The richest workers in Britain - and it’s not Londoners

Hetan Shan, executive director of the Royal Statistics Society which chose the top statistic, said: “Policymakers have focused on work as the best route out of poverty, but our winning statistic shows that this will not be enough to eradicate the scourge of poverty in the UK.”

The society has also announced its international statistic of the year: 72.6 years, the new record high life expectancy at birth across the world.

One judge noted that many people “may have missed” the positive news of rising global average life expectancy.

Other ‘highly commended’ stats included 28.8% — the average decline in the amount of sugar in soft drinks in the UK since a government crackdown.

Another was 10.3%, the number of new car sales that were electric and hybrid models, which passed the 10% mark in November.