The essential guide to understanding poverty in the UK
Race and ethnicity
JRF's work to be an anti-racist organisation and our insights on structural racism in housing, work and health, as well as the heightened risk of poverty experienced by many ethnic minority groups.
JRF has committed to redoubling our work on racial justice. We take this to mean challenging and helping to change the social norms, policies, rules, and structures that lead to inequitable outcomes among ethnic groups.
Today we aim to embed race equality within all our work, including as an investor, funder and partner. This includes our work on:
- poverty, as poverty and deep poverty rates are higher in many ethnic minority groups
- social security, as ethnic minority families are more likely to receive benefits
- work, as working-age adults from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to be unemployed or working in low-paying insecure jobs
- care, as adults (particularly women) from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to provide unpaid childcare
- housing, as ethnic minority families are more likely to face higher housing costs and a greater risk of overcrowding
Poverty and ethnic minority groups
Across the UK, direct and indirect racism lead to disadvantage for people from ethnic minority groups. Informal processes (like the decisions taken and assumptions held by individuals, groups and organisations) and wider structures like the labour and housing markets, and elements of the welfare state, contribute to this. To solve poverty in the UK, it’s crucial to highlight the level of disadvantage faced by people from ethnic minority groups and address the factors that cause this.
People from many ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to be in poverty than white people in the UK. For example, 2 in 10 people (19%) in white households live in poverty compared with:
- around half of people in Pakistani (49%) and Bangladeshi (53%) households
- around 4 in 10 people in households headed by someone from a Black African background (42%) or from an Asian background other than Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Chinese (39%)
- more than a quarter of people in Black Caribbean households (28%) or households headed by someone from mixed or multiple ethnic groups (26%)
In-work poverty rates are also higher for people from minority ethnic groups. This is particularly the case for Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers. They are also more likely to work in low-paid, part-time or insecure jobs, all of which increase the risk of in-work poverty.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that 1 in 6 workers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds were in insecure work in 2022 (18%) an increase of nearly 50% since 2011, while the proportion of white workers in insecure work has remained broadly stable at 11%.