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Monitoring poverty and social exclusion 2009

The 2009 annual report on the state of poverty and social exclusion in the United Kingdom from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the New Policy Institute.

Written by:
Tom MacInnes, Peter Kenway and Anushree Parekh
Date published:

Each report, using official government data, is built around a set of 50 indicators. The analysis covers a wide range of issues, ranging from low income, worklessness and debt, to ill-health, poor education and problems in communities. While the recession has certainly had an impact, the report shows that several key indicators, particularly regarding low income, unemployment and debt, were already getting worse, well before the recession began. In addition, many indicators have improved, notably in health and education.

Monitoring poverty and social exclusion 2009 is an essential resource for policy-makers and others wanting to take stock of what is happening and understand the challenges ahead.


The New Policy Institute has produced its twelfth annual report of indicators of poverty and social exclusion in the United Kingdom, providing a comprehensive analysis of trends and differences between groups. This is the first report to be written in an economic downturn, and the recession is the focus of much of the analysis.

Key points

  • The number of people unemployed or otherwise wanting work is the highest since 1997. The unemployment rate among 16- to 24-year-olds is now higher than at any point since this series began in 1993.
  • These increases did not begin with the onset of recession. Unemployment has been rising since 2005, and the young adult unemployment rate stopped falling as long ago as 2001.
  • Even before the start of the recession, the number of people living in low-income households rose again in 2007/08. The number of people in low-income households is now as high as it was in 2000, having risen by 1.3m in the last three years.
  • The number of children in low-income households where at least one adult works is, at 2.1m, the highest it has ever been. Half a million higher than in 2003/04, it is this increase that has stalled progress towards the Government's child poverty targets – again, prior to the recession.
  • Despite all this, the overall picture is far from negative. The proportion of 11-year-olds not meeting basic standards in mathematics and English has fallen every year since at least the late 1990s. The number of 16-year-olds getting fewer than 5 GCSEs is now lower than at any point in the last ten years.
  • The rate of premature death (deaths before the age of 65) has come down by a sixth for men and for women over the last ten years – but the rate for men is still 50% higher than for women.
  • There have also been striking reductions in the levels of anxiety about being the victim of burglary or violent crime, to levels around half of those ten years ago.