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Poverty (where a person’s resources are insufficient to meet their basic living needs) is a risk to health. And the extent of time a person lives in poverty matters – persistent poverty is more strongly associated with worse health than shorter exposures to poverty

Key stats

13.6 million
people in the UK live in poverty, equivalent to around 20% of the population.
of adults living in persistent poverty are in poor health, compared with 19% of adults living in poverty and 15% of adults not living in poverty.
of children and working-age adults in poverty live in households where all adults are working and at least one adult works full time.
more black people are likely to be in persistent poverty than white people.

Poverty is where a person’s resources are insufficient to meet their basic living needs. The cost of living crisis poses a threat to people’s health because of the pressure it is creating on household budgets. Poverty – and child poverty in particular – was highlighted as a risk to health in The Marmot Review 10 Years On. Being unable to meet their needs puts people under additional stresses, including being unable to participate fully in society. Poverty may mean people lack access to basic goods or services in ways that can damage health, such as being unable to consistently heat their home or experiencing food insecurity.

Persistent poverty is associated with worse outcomes still. Both the length of time someone is in poverty and the number of episodes of poverty they experience are associated with worse health.

These charts explore the relationship between poverty and health, as well as trends and inequalities in poverty.

Relationship between poverty and health

Trends and inequalities in poverty

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There is a well-established link between income and variations in health, with people on lower incomes more likely to have poor health
There is a strong link between debt and health, with people in problem debt more likely to have worse health

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Health inequalities

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This is part of Evidence hub: What drives health inequalities?

Data, insights and analysis exploring how the circumstances in which we live shape our health
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