Destitution in the UK 2023

This study, the fourth in the Destitution in the UK series by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, reveals approximately 3.8 million people experienced destitution in 2022, including around one million children.

A major new report reveals a shameful increase in the level of destitution in the UK. The number of people experiencing destitution increased by 61% from 2019 to 2022, with an even larger increase in the number of children experiencing destitution. This follows another rapid acceleration in the level of destitution from 2017 to 2019.

Destitution – the most severe form of hardship – has become so widespread in part because a political choice has been made to tolerate it. But destitution is not inevitable: different political choices can reverse this awful trend.

As a general election approaches, JRF is calling on all parties to make tackling destitution a priority and set out their plans to reverse the appalling rise in hardship across our country.

People are considered destitute if they have not been able to meet their most basic physical needs to stay warm, dry, clean and fed. This can be because they either lack necessities like clothing, heating, shelter or food. Or because their income is so extremely low that they are unable to purchase these items for themselves.

The report is the fourth in a series of Destitution in the UK studies, published regularly since 2016 by JRF and undertaken by Heriot-Watt University, in partnership with Kantar Public.

Associate Director for Scotland for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Chris Birt comments.