Poverty and health costs the UK £78bn

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Dealing with the effects of poverty costs the UK £78bn a year, or £1,200 for every person in the country, according to a wide-ranging report on the impact of deprivation on Britain’s economy.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) estimates that poverty accounts for £1 in every £5 spent on public services. The biggest chunk of the £78bn figure – £29bn – comes from treating illnesses associated with poverty. A further £9bn is linked to the cost of benefits and lost tax revenues.

The research, carried out for JRF by Heriot-Watt and Loughborough universities, highlights the economic case for tackling deprivation in the UK and also looks at some longer-term consequences to the Treasury, in terms of reduced revenues and increased benefit payments to people whose earnings potential will be damaged in the future by the experience of poverty today. The report estimates that the total cost to the treasury equates to over 4% of GDP and is slightly more than the amount the UK Government borrowed in 2015-2016.

As the report concludes, although the calculations made in the report are a broad estimate and cannot be taken as a precise calculation they give a powerful indication of how strongly this is impacting on everyone in the UK. The report also concludes that a coherent strategy to combat poverty would therefore not only improve the lives of those whom it helps but also bring about huge public savings.

See www.jrf.org.uk/report/counting-cost-uk-poverty .

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