A charity food van distributes food to the vulnerable

Leaders urged to establish hardship plans

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has called on political leaders to lay out their plans for tackling hardship around the country.

With the general election campaign in full swing, tackling hardship has been labelled a “stain on the moral conscience of our nation” as nearly one million people sit just £10 a week away from poverty. This is on top of the millions of people around the country already living in poverty.

A group that equates to the entire population of Wales (3.2 million) sit only £40 above the poverty line, with 700,000 of these being children, 1.5 million being working-age adults, and one million pensioners. Those who are £10 off poverty are included in this number, however, they could be set to join the 14.2 million people across the UK who are already in poverty – 4.2 million of which are children – unless things improve.

According to the JRF, poverty has not fallen for a prolonged period in almost two decades, with May 2024 seeing reports that 7 million households were forced to go without essentials such as showers, toiletries or adequate clothing in the last six months, whilst also going hungry or being forced to skip meals.

Poverty graphic Joseph Rowntree Foundation

CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Paul Kissack, said:

“Such high levels of hardship, with millions experiencing poverty and millions more teetering on the edge of it, are a stain on the moral conscience of our nation.

“It has been six Prime Ministers since this country last made sustained progress on reducing poverty. During that time we’ve seen a sustained rise in the number of people in deep poverty, with hardship and destitution growing even faster. Whoever is Prime Minister after July 4th must make reversing this dismal trend a priority.

“Our political leaders must be specific and ambitious about how they will tackle poverty. But so far, there hasn’t been anything like the level of urgency from either Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer that we need to see. Pointing to future growth as a panacea just won’t cut it.”


Image credit: iStock


PSE April/ May 2024

Alarming decline in UK costal water quality

Dive into our latest edition for April/May 2024!


More articles...

View all
Online Conference


2024 Online Conferences

In partnership with our community of public sector leaders responsible for procurement and strategy across local authorities and the wider public sector, we’ve devised a collaborative calendar of conferences and events for leaders of industry to listen, learn and collaborate through engaging and immersive conversation.

All our conferences are CPD accredited, which means you can gain points to advance your career by attending our online conferences. Also, the contents are available on demand so you can re-watch at your convenience.

Public Sector Executive Podcast

Listen to industry leaders on everything within the public sector

From government policies and public administration to education, healthcare, and infrastructure, we explore the challenges and innovations shaping our communities.


Join us as we speak with industry leaders, policymakers, and frontline professionals, providing you with valuable insights and perspectives to stay informed and engaged with the issues that matter most.