Around 4.5 million people are experiencing the deepest levels of poverty in the UK and have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, a commission has found.

The proportion of the UK population in “deep poverty” has risen more than a third from 5% to 7% over the last two decades, while the overall poverty rate has remained largely unchanged, the Social Metrics Commission (SMC) said.

It means there are 1.7 million more people in deep poverty – living on less than half of what they need to stay above the poverty line – compared to roughly 20 years ago.

And this group is being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, it added.

22% Overall UK poverty rate

The SMC collected data between April 2018 and March 2019 to provide a comprehensive account of poverty in the UK.

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, it then worked with YouGov to poll almost 80,000 people in Britain during March and May 2020.

Before the outbreak, it found there were 4.5 million people living in deep poverty, up from 2.8 million in 2000-2001.

Of these, 2.4 million were found to be in “persistent poverty” which has lasted for at least two of the last three years.

The overall UK poverty rate has remained stable, dropping from 23% to 22% over the same period.

This equates to 14.4 million people living in poverty before the Covid-19 crisis including 4.5 million children; 8.5 million working-age adults; and 1.3 million pension-age adults.

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