Millennials are on track to face record rates of poverty for working-age people in the UK, the Independent reports.
The increase is mostly due to lack of affordable housing, according to new research published Wednesday by Resolution Foundation, a British think-tank that aims to improve the standard of living for low- and middle-income families.
Of people born between 1981 and 2000, 22% are likely to be living in “relative poverty,” the condition in which people lack the minimum amount of income needed in order to maintain the average standard of living where they live. This percentage is higher than any previous generation, Resolution Foundation reported in its paper titled “The Generation of Poverty.”
“The risk of poverty tends to be highest in early childhood or later retirement. But those risks have fluctuated over time,” Fahmida Rahman, a researcher at the Resolution Foundation, said in a statement released to Global Citizen.
New Resolution Foundation report by @fahmidarahman , funded by @NuffieldFound: pensioner poverty rates for those entering retirement today are down by two-thirds compared to previous generations in the 1980s - but children born today are facing record poverty rates. pic.twitter.com/K9Yr0KQ0Ht— ResolutionFoundation (@resfoundation) May 22, 2019
Children born in the UK today are more likely to face poverty at the beginning of their lives than any other generation over the last 60 years, according to the report. Four in 10 babies born between 2016 and 2020 are expected to be in relative poverty by the time they are two years old.
Nearly a quarter of those born between 1991 and 1995 are expected to be in relative poverty in their late 20s, a time period during which poverty rates have been low in the past because a high proportion of people are working.
The report attributes the rising poverty levels to large increases in housing from the 1980s onward. At age 25, around 14% of millennials are living in poverty before housing costs, compared to 22% after housing costs.
In January, housing charity Shelter reported that 277,000 people are homeless in England, and 3 million new public homes need to be built in the UK over 20 years to help those who can’t afford to pay for private homes. The Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government said providing fair social housing is a priority, and plans to build 250,000 affordable homes by 2020, including some for public rent.
In addition to the lack of affordable housing, a range of factors contribute to childhood poverty, including low pay, lack of work, and inadequate social benefits, according to the Child Poverty Action Group.
To lift children out of poverty, UNICEF and the World Bank recommend that governments invest in the early years, in services that provide prenatal care for pregnant mothers, early childhood development programs, quality schooling, and good health care.
“Policymakers must turn their attention to supporting young families,” Rahman said. “They can start by reversing benefit policies that are currently increasing the risks and depths of child poverty for our very newest generation.”