One-third of Britons are too poor to ‘join in with society’
Many on lowest incomes cannot buy consumer goods, visit the cinema or go on holiday
Monday 27 May 2013
Just under a third of people in Britain are excluded from mainstream society because they cannot afford to join in cultural activities such as going to the cinema, taking a holiday or buying consumer goods.
Research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that the poorest 30 per cent are also prevented from “participating in society” because they have fewer social relationships and less trust in other people.
“Participating is about belonging. Many of society’s expectations require individuals and families to spend money,” the report, Poverty, Participation and Choice, says. “Like it or not, Britain is a consumer society in which people are assessed according to the income that they have, how they spend it and what they do with their time.”
Participation is defined by the report’s authors as “social relationships, membership of organisations, trust in other people and purchase of services”.
The research by academics at Oxford and Sheffield Universities, extends the work done by the renowned sociologist Peter Townsend who famously said that “poverty is relative” – ie, it prevents people from being full members of society.
The report found that participation in society falls as income falls, as might be expected. But participation bottoms out for the 30 per cent of households with the lowest incomes, for whom additional income then makes no difference. In other words, there is a cut-off point for being a full member of society.
Below this “participation floor” incomes may vary wildly. But extra money is spent on replacing worn-out goods or upgrading services, rather than buying extra things.
“Those [within the 30 per cent] with higher incomes do not have measurably increased living standards, greater social participation or higher levels of trust,” the report says. “The 30 per cent of people with the lowest incomes are forced to choose between the basic necessities of modern life; they must decide which needs to neglect.”
The research analysed information from a survey of 40,000 households, accounting for 100,000 people, representing a cross-section of Britain. They were asked what goods they owned, such as DVD players or dishwashers, and what activities they did, such as how often they went on holiday. Those on higher incomes owned or participated in nearly all the goods or activities. Those on lower incomes did not, and had to make greater choices.
Those with a good education and older people had greater membership of society, it found. The report, to be published this week, says that such social exclusion doesn’t affect the way children socialise, but means they perform less well at school.
Working parents tend to spend more time interacting with their children than those who don’t work but poorer parents spend more time helping with schoolwork as their children are more likely to fall behind.
- 4 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian with near-naked ensemble
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...