I am currently reading a book called Changing Fortunes by Stephen Jenkins and one of the main findings in the book notes that around one fifth of the UK population are poor at any one time – that’s the same as in Saudi Arabia.
(The figure confirms, though, that this is a static figure – see here)
But due to poverty dynamics in the UK, and bearing in mind tax-benefit changes since 1991, many more people are “touched” by poverty, though quickly enter out of it. On the plus side, persistent poverty is felt by very few and its prevalence has been felt less over time due to those tax changes.
Whether this result has been made in accordance to rising cost of living, I’m yet to find out. But it is quite an interesting picture – not, however, without its problems (pertaining to income mobility, excluding reference to wages, earnings or wealth).
What, of course, it does suggest is that government intervention to tax changes, namely in the form of tax credits, has helped many from falling into poverty. The welfare system does work, but the fact that one fifth of the population are poor at any one time shows us there is plenty more to be done.