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Coronavirus pandemic aggravating poverty in UK: Experts


A man walks past homeless people sleeping rough on the pavement near the Houses of Parliament, London, in March, 2020. (AP photo)

Poverty in the UK is deteriorating because of the coronavius pandemic that has so far affected nearly 42,000 and killed more than 4,300 across the country.

With Britons losing jobs amid the ongoing lockdown in the country already reeling from a decade of austerity over the global financial crisis, experts are warning that workers are likely to be affected more by the pandemic.

"The risk of poverty is particularly high for workers in sectors like hospitality and retail where people are more likely to be on low wages and in insecure work," said Dave Innes, head of economics at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an organization for social change.

According to official statistics, over 14 million British people - or nearly one-quarter of the population - are classified as poor.

Approximately 4.2 million children - around 30 percent of the total - are living in poverty, government figures show.

During the past two weeks, nearly one million adults have applied for Universal Credit, the government’s main form of state aid, which is nearly 10 times the level in an average fortnight period.

Louisa McGeehan, a director at Child Poverty Action Group UK, said that moving on to the Universal Credit for those who had decent wages before the pandemic means "they will very suddenly find themselves living in poverty."

In terms of education for needy families, the situation will get worse for their children as online education is becoming mandatory, McGeehan told AFP.

Families who were already classed as living in poverty prior to the outbreak are having a harder time now enabling their children to continue their studies because they need to have access to the Internet, she explained.

"A lot of schools are putting lessons on the Internet for children to do at home," she said. "If those children are in households who don’t have Internet or don’t have a computer, they are not able to do that learning."

"Child poverty crisis has been amplified by the impact of coronavirus" in the country, she added.

Meanwhile, the government has launched state stimulus, including a boost to Universal Credit, but this will not solve the problem.

An adult aged over 25, who is receiving the benefit, will get £1,000 ($1,239) extra per year, but an increase in the monthly amount to £400 is still far below the level of £600 deemed enough for a single-person household to be able to avoid "poverty".

"Economically we know there is very likely to be a big recession and it’s difficult to recover quickly from a big recession," said Innes.

"We know that recessions tend to hit people in poverty -- or in risk of poverty -- hardest," he told AFP.

Food banks, on the other hand, which help provide food for the most vulnerable people including the homeless, are receiving fewer donations now.

The Trussell Trust with a national network of 1,200 food banks said it confronted an "unprecedented challenge".

 

SOURCE: PRESS TV

LINK: https://www.ansarpress.com/english/15452


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