1.25 million people in the UK were classed as destitute last year, including 300,000 children, according to a new study co-authored by Professors Suzanne Fitzpatrick and Glen Bramley, of the the Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Environment and Real Estate (I-SPHERE) in the University's School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society (EGIS).
The study was undertaken by Professor Fitzpatrick on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation,
The report found that there is a very broad range of factors which can tip someone into destitution, and for most people is not due to a specific set of circumstances such as seeking asylum or having complex needs.
Most people had been living in poverty for a considerable period of time before becoming destitute. Many people named the extra expenses caused by disability and illness and the high cost of rent and household energy bills as triggers for destitution.
Professor Fitzpatrick, Director of I-SPHERE, said, “Destitution takes a huge toll on people's mental and physical health and wellbeing. The people we spoke to told us they felt humiliated that they couldn't afford basic essentials without help. Many said that this affected their relationships and left them socially isolated.
“This report has shown that destitution is intrinsically linked to long-term poverty, with many people forced into destitution by high costs, unaffordable bills or a financial shock such as a benefit sanction or delay. More co-ordinated debt-collection practices, particularly from DWP, local councils and utility companies, could help to avoid small debts tipping people in to destitution.”