The most commonly used poverty line is 60% of the median equivalised household income after housing costs. To look into deeper poverty, households with an equivalised household income after housing costs that is below 50% of the median are considered to be in deep poverty, and those with an income under 40% of the median are said to be in very deep poverty.
In 2020/21, around 3 in 20 people (14%) were living in deep poverty, including 2.7 million children (19% of children). Across all households, 8% of people were living in very deep poverty. This means that 69% of people in poverty were living in deep poverty and 42% in very deep poverty.
Over the last twenty years the poverty rate has remained relatively stable, however, there has been an increase in the proportion of people in very deep poverty. Focusing on people living in poverty, the proportion in very deep poverty increased from 37% in 2002/03 to a peak of 47% in 2018/19, falling back to 42% in this most recent year.
The proportion of people in poverty who were in very deep poverty has been higher in every subsequent year than it was in 2002/03. The sudden fall in 2020/21 of the proportion of people in very deep poverty is likely due to policy and economic shifts during the COVID-19 pandemic and data collection challenges. Even with these changes, the proportion of people in poverty who were in very deep poverty still remains 5 percentage points higher than in 2002/03.
The data presented here is from our 2023 UK Poverty report, setting out the trends and impacts of poverty across the UK. Read the full report UK Poverty 2023.